Talking Shop: Making the Climate Connection During Hurricane Season

Journalists discussed how to make the climate connection when covering hurricanes.

Past event: September 6, 2023

Extra strong hurricanes are becoming more common due to climate change, and the best news coverage makes that connection clear to audiences. With oceans at record high temperatures, NOAA recently increased the number of expected hurricanes this year from 5 to 9, up to 6 to 11. Hurricane Idalia has blasted Florida’s Gulf Coast, and more storms are expected the world over in the next months. This Talking Shop equipped journalists to know how hurricanes are (and are not) connected to climate change so they can inform audiences accordingly.


  • Alex Harris, Lead Climate Change Reporter at the Miami Herald
  • John Morales, Certified Consulting Meteorologist at ClimaData and Hurricane Specialist at NBC 6, South Florida
  • Rob Perillo, Chief Meteorologist at Louisiana’s KATC

Jeff Berardelli, Chief Meteorologist and Climate Specialist at Florida’s WFLA, moderated.

Summary and Key Takeaways

  1. Understanding the scientific facts about hurricanes

The panelists discussed slides with peer-reviewed science on how climate change is affecting hurricanes. Here’s what we know:

  • We are not necessarily experiencing more hurricanes, but their intensity is on the rise globally, with a greater percentage reaching Category 4 and 5.
  • Over the past 40 years, more hurricanes are undergoing rapid intensification.
  • More intense hurricanes correlate with higher rainfall rates, as a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor.
  • Hurricanes are moving slower, potentially due to changes in the jet stream patterns, which can contribute to more prolonged and devastating rainfall events.
  1. Reporting should reflect that storms are undergoing rapid intensification

Both Morales and Perillos spoke about their experiences reporting on rapidly intensifying storms, which can be especially problematic because they provide less time for people to prepare or evacuate ahead of a storm. “These days, because of climate amplification and… record hot sea surface temperatures, you just never know when a system is going to go from just a mere tropical storm to a major [category 4 or 5] hurricane in the span of 24 or 36 hours,” Morales said. This has led him to become “more cautious” about forecasting how much a hurricane will strengthen. Perillo listed a number of hurricanes — Harvey, Michael, Laura, and more — that underwent rapid intensification. This has led Perillo to highlight the importance of people evacuating their homes not only because of potential flooding but also because “nobody can handle Category 4 winds at their homestead no matter what.”

  1. Make the climate connection before and during hurricanes (and after, too…)

Audiences are overwhelmingly interested in climate change, and they’re particularly tuned in when a hurricane or other severe weather event is on its way, due to the potential for destruction. Make the climate connection before and during hurricanes “because you have people’s attention at that moment,” said Berardelli. Ahead of a storm, it’s a good idea for newsrooms to provide vetted climate-related language so journalists can easily incorporate information into their stories and weather reporting. Be sure to also report on climate attribution studies, which look at whether, and to what degree, human influence may have contributed to extreme weather events. These typically become available after a storm, or other extreme weather event, has passed.

  1. Report the link to climate change and emphasize the human connection

While many people are experiencing the impacts of climate change, including extreme heat, flooding, and stronger hurricanes, they often don’t understand that global heating is human-caused and mostly the result of burning fossil fuels. There “seems to be a disconnect,” Harris said. “I think we need to hit that nail with the hammer over and over.” Harris suggests that doing so will help “normalize that connection, rather than making a huge deal of it.”

Scientifically vetted copy. The panelists provided vetted copy that journalists can use when reporting the climate connection to hurricanes:

  • “Climate change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is leading to hotter water. In response, there’s a greater chance that run-of-the-mill hurricanes intensify to major storms.”
  • “Hotter water due to human-caused climate change is increasing the probability that hurricanes will rapidly intensify (which means less time to prepare and greater damage).”
  • “In a heated climate, hurricanes contain more moisture and drop heavier rain. This increases the threat of flooding.”
  1. Localize, humanize, and report on solutions

When covering hurricanes, audiences want to know how it will affect their own lives, and the places where they live. “Connect [climate change] to what is important to your audience,” Morales said. This can include everything from how an individual storm might affect them in the short term to longer term issues such as higher home insurance costs and how it’s connected to food. “Making things relevant is the most important job that local climate reporters have. People don’t really care about the polar bears and the ice flow. They don’t care about big, gigantic reports nationally,” Harris said. Audiences also need to know that there is hope and there are solutions to the climate crisis, she added, including actions that people can take “right this second in your local community, in your home, in your life that will put us on a path to a future where the impacts of climate change are not as severe, and more people get to live in an equitable and just world.”

Related Resources

Below, see resources shared by panelists and journalists during the event:

Public opinion. See Yale Program on Climate Change Communication: Global Warming’s Six Americas and YPCCC’s international survey on climate beliefs and attitudes.

Covering hurricanes and more. See Covering Climate Now’s guides, “Making the Climate Connection,” on how to connect extreme weather and related events to climate change, and “Extreme Weather,” on how climate change affects various types of extreme weather events.

Climate emergency. See a list of scientific organizations, media groups, governments, communities, and world leaders that say humanity faces a climate emergency.

Climate conference. See information on “Climate Changes Everything: Creating a Blueprint for Media Transformation,” a conference in New York City from September 21-22, co-sponsored by Covering Climate Now and Solutions Journalism Network.


Mark Hertsgaard: Hello and welcome to another talking shop with Covering Climate Now. I’m Mark Hertsgaard, I’m the executive director of Covering Climate Now and the environment correspondent for the Nation Magazine. Today’s topic, hurricanes and climate change. For those of you who don’t know, Covering Climate Now is a global consortium of more than 600 news outlets around the world that reach a total audience of well over 2 billion people. We’re organized by journalists for journalists to help journalists and newsrooms everywhere do better coverage of the defining story of our time. It costs nothing to join Covering Climate Now, and there’s no editorial line to follow with one exception, zero tolerance for climate denial. You can visit our website to find out more. That’s where you’ll find a list of our partners and you can sign up for our excellent weekly newsletter at the Climate Beat.

You can join our Slack channel, learn about our climate journalism awards, and apply for your news organization or you as a freelancer to join Covering Climate Now. So today’s briefing could not come at a more fitting time. The Atlantic hurricane season is well underway. The peak of that season comes next week, and as if to underscore that fact, Tropical Storm Lee has been cited in the Mid-Atlantic heading west, scientists expect that Lee will strengthen to become a large hurricane, a category four or bigger perhaps. Though it is not clear whether it will make landfall. Hurricane season continues in the Atlantic until November one and since the summer of 2023, has been the hottest ever recorded and sea surface temperatures around the world are likewise setting high records. One of the key elements for the formation of hurricanes is all around us.

Now, the science is what we’re going to be talking about today a lot. The science examining the connection between climate change and hurricanes has advanced considerably in recent years. It’s now established that climate change leads to stronger, more destructive hurricanes, though not necessarily to more hurricanes in general. So it’s crucial that we as journalists inform our audience about the connections between climate change and hurricanes. I’m happy to say that Covering Climate Now has assembled an absolutely stellar cast of colleagues to walk us through this. I’m delighted to introduce Jeff Berardelli of WFLA TV in Tampa. He will serve as today’s moderator. Jeff has been a close colleague of Covering Climate Now from our very beginning four years ago when he was a meteorologist and climate specialist for the CBS News Network, and we’re lucky to have him with us today. Jeff, please take it away.

Jeff Berardelli: Mark, it is great to see you. I always enjoy any interactions that we have, and thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this panel, to help moderate this panel. And the folks that you chose to be panelists on here, I love every single one of them. They are all extraordinarily experienced and schooled in both hurricanes and climate, and some of them are close personal friends. So Mark, I appreciate it. It’s great to see your face, great to see all of your faces here, and we’re going to do some great stuff today. So I want to give you a little introduction. It’s on paper, so excuse me if I read this, but it’ll be fairly short.

So here’s the topics that we want to cover today. First, audiences do want journalists to help understand how climate change is impacting weather events like hurricanes. Now, according to the Yale program on climate change communication, Six Americas, and this is the best climate opinion study that we have here in the United States. Only 9% of Americans are dismissive of climate change. Every study, every single one over the past several years shows it exactly at nine or 10% or so. That means it’s not a large part of your audience. What it means is 91% of Americans are receptive to hearing about climate change’s impact. That’s number one. Number two, making the climate connection to hurricanes before there are attribution studies out. And usually it takes a few days now to get those out. It used to take several weeks, but making that connection before attribution studies is very important because you have people’s attention at that moment. So it’s essential to help audiences understand how the continued burning of fossil fuels is having direct impact on their lives.

We’re going to outline what the science says is clear on the connection between hurricanes and climate from the IPCC. Then next, we’re going to provide you short copy with vetted language that you can use when covering hurricanes. The copy can be inserted very easily as one or two sentences into your TV, your digital or your newspaper stories without needing to find an expert to weigh in. Because I know, everybody is on deadlines in this business and I know you want to be accurate with your information, that’s what we’re here to do. We’re going to give you accurate information, vetted information so that you can include it in your stories. Okay?

All right. Now I want to introduce our panelists. First, Alex Harris. Alex is the lead climate change reporter for Miami Herald’s Climate Team, which covers how South Florida communities are adapting to a warming world. Her beat also includes environmental issues and hurricanes as well. I’ve known Alex for several years now. We interact a lot. In fact, she calls me sometimes and she probably wishes I would just shut up on the phone because she asks questions and I just keep going and going. Alex, great to have you and unmute your microphone by the way.

Alex Harris: Happy to be here. Thanks so much. And it’s totally fine. I love it when people just ramble on the phone. It’s my favorite thing.

Jeff Berardelli: All right, well, call me anytime. I’m very good at that. Okay, next is John Morales. Now I will say before I introduce him formally that John is really one of the people who got me into this. I was working in South Florida when John was a chief meteorologist at the NBC station there. I was at CVS and I saw John’s bravery in telling the truth about climate change on television. He inspired me, and that really started what has been an interesting path over the past decade or so on climate change. So let me introduce him formally now.

John is an atmospheric scientist and environmental scientist with a long tenure as a widely respected broadcast meteorologist. I can certainly vouch for that. He founded and is the lead certified consulting meteorologist at Climate Data Corporation, a boutique firm specializing in forensic meteorology and weather consulting. Now, John previously served as the chief meteorologist at NBC, owned WTVJ, channel six in Miami, and he still functions as their first ever hurricane specialist. John, it is always great to see you.

John Morales: Well, thanks Jeff. Always good to see you as well. We’ve been friends for a long time. I appreciate your words about what’s been done here in South Florida in terms of climate communications. It should be noted that the vast majority of people that provide climate context within our weather reporting or news, broadcast news reporting do not face humongous pushback like has been widely publicized because of the situation in Iowa with a colleague that we all know and respect as well, and he’s terrific, but he is certainly not emblematic of the situation out there for people that provide climate context in their reporting. And I want to make sure that point comes across today.

Jeff Berardelli: Yes, that is a great point for sure, and we will talk about that in more detail. And lastly, I want to introduce you to Rob Perillo. He’s the chief meteorologist for KAT CTV3. He has 33 years experience in forecasting in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Weather for both of those areas. He’s tracked hundreds of tropical storms and hurricanes, unfortunately for him and for the folks in Louisiana during his career, including major Louisiana storms such as Andrew, Lily, Katrina, Rita, Gusto, Ike, Laura, Delta and Ida. And I’m happy to report he’s still alive and well. Those are a lot of big storms to cover. I don’t know. Just covering one storm a year is enough for me, but you seem to be inundated there, Rob.

Rob Perillo: Yeah, well in between ‘2019 and ‘2021, 46 and a half days in the cone of uncertainty. So it’s been a long road. Fortunately, it’s been quiet Louisiana-wise in the tropics this year so far, and going back to last year. But yeah, I’ve been in the TV business for 35 years, 40 years as a meteorologist. I actually had some pretty decent training before I sold out and got into the television business, but really enjoy doing the weather down here, except when we have hurricanes, it does take a year off your life.

But it’s also, and I was talking with Anna yesterday, hurricanes and hurricane coverage is a great opportunity to make those climate connections when you’re doing a lot of wall-to-wall coverage. And this year it’s been completely different where we’ve had such a massive heat wave that I’ve included climate in probably 70 or 80% of my weather cast going back to June because I’m talking about the Gulf of Mexico, the heat, the slower movement of systems, the amplification of whether it’s hurricanes or heat ridges. And this year, I really started using the #climateamplification because everything we’re seeing this year and then we see in some of these hurricanes, is climate amplified. And I think it’s an easier term for people to understand. So that’s been my MO so far this year.

Jeff Berardelli: It’s a good point, right? We’ve raised the baseline of earth’s temperature and thus everything is really affected by a changed climate, certain things more than others. So let me start out with the first question I have for you. Since you’re all seasoned journalists or meteorologists here in Florida or Louisiana, so right around the Gulf Coast, we’ve been forecasting in Hurricane Alley for decades. What are your personal observations of hurricanes over the past few decades and more specifically, over the past several years? And John, I’ll start with you on that.

John Morales: Well, I think the best way to summarize that is that I do not go about my business as I used to go about my business. Meaning that first off, those that know me, know that I have a non-alarmist, just the facts type of meteorological coverage, which is the antithesis of everything else that happens in the Miami market. All the stations are hyping up storms and always leaving those question marks, will it threaten Florida? When we already know that it’s not going to threaten Florida. But I will tell you, regarding intensity and intensity forecasts, I am much more wary, much more cautious because these days, because of climate amplification, because of the hot sea surface temperatures, in the case of this year, record setting hot sea surface temperatures, you just never know when a system is going to go from just a mere tropical storm to a major hurricane in the span of 24 or 36 hours.

And that for me could mean, a tropical storm in the central Bahamas, which is not that far from here, suddenly becoming a major hurricane at the doorsteps of Miami. So it’s made the way that I report to my audience on the potential threat be one that is more cautious, particularly in regards to intensity forecasting because of so many hurricanes becoming major or category four or category five hurricanes around the planet.

Jeff Berardelli: Yeah. And Rob, I see you nodding your head. So why don’t you jump in there?

Rob Perillo: Yeah. Well, you just look at the examples. Going back to, I’ll start with 2016 wasn’t even a hurricane. Slow moving disturbance produced 30, 35 inches of rainfall. My house flooded in that event. So I always honed down that, okay, the Gulf of Mexico is hotter than the late 20th century average by four or five degrees Fahrenheit. This year, even hotter and even deeper. But you look at the case studies, Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Michael, Hurricane Laura, Ida, Ian, Delta, there’s a few more that I’d love-

Jeff Berardelli: You got a lot of hurricanes in your head.

Rob Perillo: They’ve all gone through rapid intensification cycles in the Gulf of Mexico, and every one of them in 48, 60 hours before they became major hurricanes were a tropical depression or a tropical wave. So my greatest fear, and any time something gets in the Gulf of Mexico, you know somebody’s going to get hit. And what we have observed is these rapid intensification cycles on every one of those storms, all cat four, one of them cat five storms. And we’re seeing them also generally move a little bit slower, not so much with the more developed hurricanes, but with the slower moving tropical storms and depressions that get cut off in these weak upper level lows. So I also highlight the flood danger as much as I do the wind danger as well.

And one of the things I’ve been trying to highlight this year, when I started in this business, it was always flee from the water, not from the wind, but every one of the hurricanes, these big hurricanes that we’ve seen, going back to Ida, you want to flee from the wind as well, because nobody can handle category four winds at their homestead no matter what.

So earlier evacuation and the Gulf of Mexico is just such a quandary because you look at New Orleans, it takes 48 to 60 hours to evacuate New Orleans. Are you going to evacuate New Orleans on a tropical disturbance? How do we go about doing that? And this is why we have to highlight, just the storm behind me. Lee is going to go through one of these rapid intensification cycles, or several probably, but fortunately, out in the open ocean. This is the time where we can say, well, these rapid intensification cycles are happening more frequently, not only in the Gulf of Mexico, but in the very warm Atlantic that we’re seeing this year in spite of an El Nino pattern, in spite of a couple of negative features that we were looking at where the forecast initially came out as, oh, it’s going to be a normal season, maybe a little below, a little above. Now everybody’s going, “Well, it’s going to go gangbuster since we already have the heat potential and the amount of energy that’s used in a typical hurricane season.” We’re already at that today.

Jeff Berardelli: So Alex, I want to bring you in because this is something we’re seeing in Florida. I’m sure you’ve written stories on this and you’re seeing this, Rob, in Louisiana. People are starting to feel this, not just because of the damage to their homes, but this is starting to hit their pocketbooks, their wallets, right? Insurance companies are fleeing. Either your homeowner’s insurance cost is going up a lot, or you’re just having a hard time even finding policies for that matter. Alex, do you think people are finally starting to realize that climate change is impacting them directly because I will say, that I think unfortunately because I do this so often that I take for granted that people know that the burning of fossil fuels is causing climate change, and that’s causing hurricanes to get stronger, it’s causing more damage, it’s going to cost us money. But actually, I’m wrong. People don’t know this, necessarily. But do you think people are starting to make those connections?

Alex Harris: Yeah. I think this has become something that in Florida specifically, and maybe also in Louisiana, I can only speak to Florida, that we’ve seen people realize that the world is changing under their feet, whether that’s literally the street that you drive home on is now flooded; you lost a car in a freak rainstorm that wouldn’t have flooded your street 20 years ago; whether you’re seeing it be uncomfortably unlivably hot outside, and you’re experiencing health crises, because you’re trying to wait for the bus, and there’s no tree and there’s no shade, and you’re passing out; or you’re watching these storms come in, and you’re hearing the expert meteorologist tell you, “Yeah. Maybe 30 years ago, we wouldn’t have seen it rapidly intensify this fast, but we wouldn’t have been able to see it or predict it.” And now we know it’s coming, and it’s coming stronger and faster.

I think I hear just even conversationally and hearing back from readers that people know something’s happening, but they don’t know exactly what’s happening, they don’t know how it affects them personally necessarily, and they don’t know if what they’re experiencing is climate change or just the world. So I think that’s where journalists can come in and sort of guide and say, “Ah, yes. What you just experienced is something that scientists say is linked to what we might see in a warmer world in the future.” And I think the future of storms is something that grips people’s attention almost more than anything else.

Sea level rise is obviously a very big deal for us down here in South Florida. Heat is a huge deal for any of us who have to go outside at all. But storms, really, it’s one of those things that anyone who’s ever been in the cone or been in the path of the storm, that sort of all you can do is just hold on tight and do all of your preps. That helplessness as a rushing train of a storm approaches you, I think that really grips people’s attention, and they really want to know how is this going to change in the future? How should I prepare myself? How should I protect myself and my family? How is my community prepared?

So, yes. I think the conversation about the connections between climate change and the causes of it are a much more common conversation in Florida, although I do think the human cause of climate change is that’s sort of the gap we’re trying to cross in Florida specifically.

Jeff Berardelli: I think people need to understand the human cause, and I think that’s what’s happening across the country. If it’s not understood, and people are having a hard time in Miami, then they’re really having a hard time in other places.

And it’s important that we do this, because we’re doing it to ourselves, right? We’re causing the prices of insurance to go up to some degree more. It’s not just more extreme storms. It’s also the cost of construction. In Florida, it’s fraud that’s happening in the system. But there’s undoubtedly a connection to climate change, and that’s why these insurance companies, they can see the writing on the wall, and they’re saying, “You know what? I’m just going to get out of harm’s way.”

So I’d like to, because we have a lot of journalists who are watching, and they want us to establish the firm connection, what the science says firmly about the connection between climate change and hurricanes. So I’m going to bring up a slide that I have prepared, and then John Morales, I’ll ask you to chime in on the first one of these slides, kind of go through these, and talk about the science behind it, so just give me a second. I will share my screen.

And let me actually put this into a mode where it can be viewed. Hold on a second. You know what? I’m just going to leave it like this, because I’ll end up screwing something up, and I don’t want to do that. So John, I think everybody can see it. Why don’t you take it away from here?

John Morales: Sure. Thanks. Well, so what’s being presented here to you in this slide, this is peer-reviewed science, okay? And what you need to know about tropical cyclones, which is the generic term that encompasses all of these tropical low-pressure systems. It could be a tropical depression, it could be a tropical storm, could be a hurricane, a typhoon, or a cyclone. Different names for the same thing. Tropical cyclones around the world are not necessarily increasing in number, but they are increasing in intensity.

The peer-reviewed science indicates that yes, indeed, a greater percentage of tropical cyclones around the planet, not just in the Atlantic, but everywhere, it could include the Pacific, it could include the Indian Ocean, of the Bay of Bengal and other locations, those, we’re seeing a greater proportion of them become dangerous Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes. What are Category 4 and 5 hurricanes?

Maria was a Cat 4; Irma was a Cat 5; Katrina, at one point, was a Cat 5, then made landfall as a Cat 3; Harvey, a Cat 4; Dorian, a Cat 5. There’s just a slew of these, especially in recent years, that we’re seeing, and it makes sense, because what’s fuel for a hurricane? Warm sea surface temperatures. What are we seeing around the planet? Hotter sea surface temperatures, especially this year in the Atlantic with record-setting temperatures.

So 80% of tropical cyclones that attain major status, major being Category 3, 4, or 5, 80% of those go through rapid intensification cycles, okay? And again, separate papers, but all related, have shown that rapid intensification cycles are indeed increasing around the planet over the last 40 years. So that supports the fact that we’re seeing a greater percentage of these become the catastrophic type of hurricanes, like the ones that I’ve mentioned.

Rain rates and tropical cyclones are increasing. A couple of reasons for that. A warmer atmosphere can retain more water vapor, water vapor being the gassiest form of water, right? And when that condenses out into liquid rain droplets, well, if you’ve got more water vapor up in the air and you condense more of it, that means that when it rains, it rains harder. And again, attribution studies have shown that many recent tropical cyclones, from Harvey’s hurricane impact in Texas to as recent as last year’s Ian’s impact in Florida, major Hurricane Ian in Florida, there is a link between getting 20, 30, 40 inches of rain from one hurricane, like both of these hurricanes produced, to a warmer atmosphere.

And there’s another link, which is the speed of movement of these tropical storms and hurricanes. They are now moving slower. At least when they are near or striking the continental US, we are seeing these tropical cyclones move at a slower speed. And this is still emerging science, but for that particular subject matter, there could also be a climate link in the sense that we’re seeing a slower, wavier jet stream. Jet streams are the ones that guide the movement of storms, hurricanes, low-pressure systems, fronts, high-pressure systems. If the jet stream is wavier and slower, we therefore can have slower-moving hurricanes, and that’s why they can also dump more rain. So sorry about being so long-winded there, Jeff, but I think that’s a good summary of that first slide.

Jeff Berardelli: That’s fine. And just a question, technical question. So for right now, everyone should be able to see this slide, right? And I don’t know if it was up the whole time, but now you can see the slide being shared on my screen?

Rob Perillo: Mm-hmm.

Jeff Berardelli: Okay, good. Just wanted to make sure. All right. So if the journalists want to snapshot, take a picture of that, I would recommend it, because these are really just an efficient few bullet points of the impact and what we know is set in stone. So this is stuff that has been studied very, very intensely, and this is what the IPCC says is where we can make the connection between hurricanes and climate change.

The next one I’m going to go to, I’ll ask Rob to do this next one, is the future. So let’s go to the future of what the IPCC says about the connection between hurricanes and climate change.

Rob Perillo: Yeah. Well, we’re just talking over the last 40 years, and that’s coincidental with my career in meteorology, so I feel like I’ve borne witness to seeing these peer-reviewed studies really coming to fruition about the proportion of these Category 4 or 5 rate, and the rain rate in particular, where we’re seeing, it doesn’t take a hurricane, just a slow-moving tropical storm. Or in the case of the big flood in 2016 in Louisiana, the system wasn’t even in a depression, but it moved at zero to two miles an hour over three days and dumped 30 inches of rain solid from Lafayette to Baton Rouge, and there were over 175,000 homes flooded, mine included.

And getting back, I do think people are starting to see this in their pocketbooks, because right now, most of the insurance folks are taking away your hurricane deductible for your roof. It’s hard to get insurance, because the reinsurance people are looking at this data, and they see the handwriting on the wall as well. So again, we’re not seeing a net increase in the number of storms globally, but the ones that we see that are in the right place at the right time, we’re seeing them getting climate-fueled. And I always try to remind viewers, the hurricane hasn’t been produced by climate change, but it’s on the bus, and it’s influencing whatever we’re seeing, whether it’s the big heat wave we’ve seen this summer, whether it’s a rain event, or in this case, hurricanes.

And I would like to add also to what we are seeing right now with respect to tropical systems and hurricanes, that they’re impacting higher-latitude areas specifically. And case in point, you look back at Sandy, way back, in a late October, early November storm, but just this year where you had a tropical storm and tropical storm warnings and tropical storm conditions in Southern California, I would expect to see that creep further to the north as well.

So not only are we seeing these rapid intensification cycles, and we’re more at risk in the Gulf, the east coast of the United States, but also more northern latitudes are getting a taste of, well, maybe the frequency of a major hurricane in New England is once every 75 years. Well, that’s probably going to be down to once every 30 or 40 years. I don’t know the actual science behind it.

But the rain rates, to me, I’ve witnessed that from a meteorological standpoint, and the major shifts, whether it’s hurricane activity. Last summer in Louisiana, we had one of the wettest Julys and Augusts on record. This year, it was the hottest June, July, and August on record. So that’s where I come back to the #climate amplification. I try to stay away from the terms global warming or climate change. Just talk about it’s there, and it’s just amplifying almost every pattern that we do see.

Jeff Berardelli: I appreciate that, Rob. So before we bring Alex in, because Alex, I want you to go over the suggested lines of copy, and then we’ll probably open it up to folks at home, people who have asked questions. But so just going over this here, in the future, the same kind of trends are expected. And again, this is peer-reviewed science, some of the best peer-reviewed science. It’s not just one study. It’s several studies.

Peak tropical cyclone winds will increase globally. Again, journalists, if you want to take a picture of this, it might be a good idea. Global proportion of Cat 4s and Cat 5 cyclones will increase. We talked about rain rates and thus flooding, and tropical cyclones will continue to increase in the future. And one thing we don’t know, and John Morales mentioned this, is we don’t know how the frequency will change. A number of studies have shown that the number of tropical cyclones may go down, but there’ve been a few that have actually said the opposite, and many who’ve said it remain fairly unchanged. So I think that’s the area where we’re not 100% clear yet, but those other bullet points have been studied over and over again.

Okay. So this last slide right here, Alex, is for you to talk about, because you deal with this on a daily basis. It’s difficult. I know this, having worked at CBS News for a while and how difficult it is to get just a few extra words into a script because you’re trying to fit it into the evening news, which everybody has 50 seconds or 60 seconds for a story, whatever it is, but this information is important, right?

So how do we get it into the copy of TV and online and newspaper stories in an efficient way and in a way where it is vetted science? Where you don’t have to go find your own expert who can call you back in 5 minutes and say, “Yeah, this hurricane is made stronger by climate change”? These are more generalized statements. So Alex, I’ll let you take it away.

Alex Harris: Yeah. So I think when it comes to trying to pack a lot into a short period, a short couple sentences, journalists are very good at it, like you said, and these sentences, these copy clips, sort of get into that. So there’s a couple of things that we’re clearly trying to hit here.

One is that climate change is human-caused. I think we need to hit that nail with the hammer over and over again, because like I said, in my audience, that seems to be the disconnect. They understand things are changing, they understand that maybe things are getting worse, but the fact that climate change is human-caused seems to be a disconnect. So every time you can just drop that in there when you can, I think that really helps readers just normalize that connection, rather than making a huge deal of it.

And the other aspect is that what specific part of the future of a warmer planet might impact the way that hurricanes change and form? So one of the things that we heard from both John and Rob and Jeff is that not all of these are, quote-unquote, set in stone. They’re all open bodies of research, but scientists are more confident about some aspects of the way climate change affects hurricanes than others.

So for instance, we’re talking about rain and storm surge. Wetter storms. There’s a lot more and higher confidence in that connection between a warmer atmosphere can physically hold more water. If you’ve ever been outside when it’s been humid, you know the air feels wet, and more water can be rung out over land. So we see more rain and harder rain, like Rob mentioned earlier. And hotter water is one of the things that fuels storms. It’s not the only thing, but it is a very important thing. So if we know, if we see hotter sea surface temperatures that are record-breaking like we saw this summer, that’s a pretty good connection.

So I think it’s really important also when you’re talking to your readers, if you have time for that nuance to mention that those things, we’re pretty confident on, there’s a lot of good science about it, versus other things, like what is the frequency of storms? This movement as they’re scooching toward or away from land, or some of the other connections are a little further apart. You might want to add a little more coulds, shoulds, likely to.

And another thing that’s a really important phrase when you’re talking about climate change and hurricanes is you can’t necessarily say climate change caused a hurricane, because it didn’t. They’ve been happening for thousands of years, hundreds of years. What we know is that the climate change is changing hurricanes. We know it’s affecting things by making certain aspects more likely. So you see a lot of that here. There’s a greater likelihood, increasing the probability, that increases the threat. So use phrases and words like that when you can, because those are vetted scientifically, and those ensure that you are getting the message across and leaving yourself that space so your readers know that you looked into this.

And the other thing I really like about these suggested lines of copy is they’re tying the change directly to the threat. So here, we’re talking about a wetter storm increases the threat of flooding, which is how the National Hurricane Center and other storm communications have been shifting over the years. Less from, “It’s a Cat 3, it’s a Cat 4, it’s a Cat 5,” but to the impacts which they’ll change for every storm. What I hear from scientists all the time is there’s never just a Cat 1 anymore when you’re talking about these wetter storms, 1s, 2s, tropical storms could have a lot more water and make it a flood risk versus higher storms, maybe the wind is the more risk. So I like that if you can shrink these sentences, and you’re still getting in the human caused, climate change, you’re getting in the wiggle word here, which is likelihood increasing probability, chance. And then you’re also directly, which is the thing readers thing they care about the most, is you’re directly tying the impacts: why should you be worried about rapid intensification? Well, you have less time to prepare, and the storm is coming and it could be stronger than it was when you first started watching four days ago. So, use these as inspiration. Jeff put these together, we think they’re pretty great, but obviously just make sure you try to keep those three things in mind as you’re writing your copy.

Jeff Berardelli: All right, did you guys have anything else you want to mention before I open it up to our questions, questions from the folks that are watching this?

John Morales: No, there’s some really great questions on the Q&A, so I look forward to answering some of those.

Jeff Berardelli: Okay, so the first one-

Jeff Berardelli: You go ahead, Alex. I’m sorry.

Alex Harris: One last thing: for those who work in digital newsrooms, one of the things that works really well for me, if you don’t want to go back every single time, if you write a story or you have a video that’s evergreen, you can embed, that’s a really fast way on deadline. If you’re writing a storm update, you can drag in a video that you did with an interview with a scientist talking about the connections, or you can link to an older story you did. I think rely on your back catalog when you’re doing that daily, every two hours update.

Jeff Berardelli: Yeah, I totally agree with that. I have to sometimes go back and reference stories that I’ve done in the past to just quickly remember that bullet points that I hit in that story and not have to do the research over again. But of course, you always want to update the research anyway.

All right, so there are lots of questions. The first one’s from a good friend of mine, she actually was my climate producer at CBS News, Catherine Nemchek, and she was asking what is the single most important detail in one sentence that producers and reporters can include in their storytelling? So, I think we just addressed that, right? Because she says it can be difficult to convince higher-ups in newsrooms to make the climate connection for our viewers: many weather packages don’t include anything about it, let alone stories about their impacts. So as climate communicators, she wants to know what’s the single most thing that we could include. So we addressed that, but Rob, let bring you in on that: what is the single most thing you think viewers need to know as it pertains to climate change?

Rob Perillo: Well, I think you have to just bring it down to the basics where weather is weather, and weather’s always happened, but there is a climate attribution now. And honestly, when I went to school in the early to mid-eighties, we couldn’t do the math on the attribution. We couldn’t even do the math on some of the equations to forecast climate change. But that has changed so much now, and now it’s irrefutable math and statistics, and we have to educate the public when we’re talking about, confidence levels and that sort of thing. And you don’t want to get in the weeds with that, but you have to really stress that most weather systems may not have a climate influence, but these higher end systems, whether it’s a rainstorm, whether it’s a hurricane, whether it’s an El Nino that is being enhanced by perhaps a climate change or maybe they’re working hand in hand, that it is on the bus. It is part of the equation now.

And we can now identify it without doubt through the use of mathematics and the science that we understand right now, that we have to be able to communicate that this storm might’ve been 20% stronger because of climate change, this rain system might’ve been caused… And actually I’ll go back to the year that I flooded: I had 25 inches of rain at my house. Water was one inch from getting in. I had a four-inch rainfall, the water got in, got out. But if climate change wasn’t a part of that, but if climate change didn’t slow that system down, I probably would not have been a flood victim or maybe even a, quote unquote, climate victim. So you see it on the edges, and I try to talk about that, whether it’s a heat wave: the heat waves are more expansive, they’re lasting a little bit longer, they’re more intense, they’re 10%, 20% more intense. It’s just getting back to the derivative.

And one thing that I have when I get blow-back through social media or on the air or digital or through the phone, people want to tell me, “Well, the Earth has always been warmer, millions and millions of years ago, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” it’s like, but you’re not getting the point: we’re understanding right now what we are seeing has got tangible effects, and you’re seeing that in your pocketbook, you have to evacuate more often, your insurance rates are going up. And in some cases, the re-insurers are jumping out of Louisiana probably faster than Florida, and they’re seeing that they can’t ensure their homes anymore, or it’s so astronomically high that it puts a hurt on the person.

And I think that’s where we’re starting to make the connection to the viewers is you have to translate it back to what it’s costing them, and what is the long-term cost, what’s going to be the average yearly budget that you need for hurricane evacuation and mitigation. And it ain’t cheap: it’s thousands of dollars. So, I think what we have to do is also try to tie it to how is it impacting your purse, whether it’s the home insurance, it’s rebuilding, it’s getting the supplies at Lowe’s, the cost of wood has gone through the roof, all those things.

Jeff Berardelli: Yeah. And whenever we do tropical shows and we do them all the time here at my station and we are covering hurricanes, people are always asking, “Okay, but how does that affect my city? How does that affect my town? What am I going to see?” People are interested in how it’s going to impact them, so I think that’s an important part of making connection is actually telling people, “Hey, this is actually impacting you directly,” and when there’s an opportunity to do it, you utilize that opportunity right then and there. Did anyone else want to jump in on that? Because there are lots of questions in the queue here.

John Morales: No, I [inaudible] Catherine’s question because if I were to say one phrase or one sentence that I think I frame my climate context most often with, there have been in recent years, the last 10, 15 years, an increasing amount of opportunities in which extreme weather has occurred. And sometimes it’s local, and sometimes it’s national, and sometimes it’s international. But we’re seeing more extreme weather occur. And oftentimes, we know through attribution studies that these can be linked, whether it’s 40%, 60%, 100%, but they can be linked to the changing climate. So to answer Catherine’s question: that one phrase that I always use when I’m presenting these extreme weather events and disasters, I will tell the audience, “You see [inaudible], you see this record heat wave, you see this extreme rainfall, you see this flash drought: this is consistent with what you would expect in a warming climate,” or a warming planet, if you want to substitute that out, “This is consistent with what you would expect in a warming climate.”

I’m not throwing the textbook at their head, okay? I’m simply planting that seed and letting them understand that, hey, things are changing. And you know what? This is what they told us was going to happen. I remember 25 years ago when there were some scientists trying to tell us, and gosh, it really is happening. And here’s John Morales saying that it’s consistent with a warming climate, a proxy for global heating, for a climate crisis, for whatever. But it’s just a softer way of saying it. So I think that answers Catherine’s question from my point of view. And it might also answer to a degree Rob Kahn’s question regarding encouraging more local coverage. That is a way to present climate context without preaching.

And there’s so many other ways. Not a panelist today, but somebody that’s done terrific in this job is a broadcast meteorologist. Her name’s [inaudible], she’s [inaudible] in Charlotte, North Carolina, but she started her career in, I think it was Sioux City, and then she moved to Springfield. And in these audiences where you would expect pushback, where you would expect doubts about what she’s presenting, she was able to present climate to these audiences. Why? Because she was able to connect it to what matters to them, which is what Rob just said, and what Jeff just reemphasized: connect it to what is important to your audience.

I think she did a story on beer, and how production of beer would be impacted because the hops, something was happening to the hops, I don’t know what it was, but something was happening to it. So, she connected it to beer and it was important. And in Iowa, she connected it to agriculture, and it was important. And somewhere else, she connected it to chocolate. So, bottom line: you find ways to make this connection for the audience and you realize that this has value and that this has ways to be able to penetrate these markets where you think you wouldn’t dare do it because again, like I said at the onset, you’ll get a reaction like our colleague in Iowa did, which again, he’s the exception to the rule. For every Chris Gloninger, there’s 100 reporting on climate that are not getting that type of reaction.

Jeff Berardelli: And John, I think tone is important, right? Coming off in a non-judgmental way and not pushing… Here’s the thing, sometimes we’ll get on air and say, “Hey, stop eating meat,” it’s clear people do not want to be told what to do exactly. You can give suggestions of things that you can do and say, “Do what is possible in your specific life to help with the situation,” rather than telling them to do something because that will turn them off almost immediately. So, I think an important part of this is, is that a judgmental tone? The way that you communicate is also important, not just what you are communicating. And I’ll just say specifically, Elisa did a story about beer: something hit me yesterday, which scared the Italian out of me: olive oil prices have gone up by two times. That was it for me. I said, “If I wasn’t motivated before,” because I don’t know, I think I have O-type blood, and when I say O-type blood, I mean olive oil, okay? That’s how I run. But anyway, the point is I’ll never forget that now, right? Certain things connect with certain people, so speak their language.

We have other questions coming in. You already answered Rob’s question, I believe, and we answered Catherine’s question. So of course, Bernadette Woods Placky, who’s friends with all of us, asked a good question, and she wants to know, “What are the questions that you get most from your audiences still at this point? Where is their understanding and where is their confusion from audiences?” And I’ll just first say one thing that I think is important to mention is that I tend to ignore the combative people who are not being genuine and in their questions. I just block them on social media or I mute them on social media. It’s a waste of my time.

I think we’ve realized over the course of years now. It used to be, “Well, maybe we should engage these people because there are other people looking at the tweets and looking at the threads,” but I just completely get rid of them because I don’t have time to deal with it. And really, I know it’s less than 10% of the audience. It’s a few very loud, obnoxious people who are not being genuine at all in their comments. So, I would say you have to figure out where are the comments are genuine and where they’re not. So Rob, I see you kind of nodding your head there.

Rob Perillo: Yeah.

Jeff Berardelli: So, what kind of viewer comments or questions do you get? Where are people still confused or where do you think they are starting to understand?

Rob Perillo: Well, I think we have to look back at the big picture, and especially in South Louisiana, we’re challenging people’s belief systems more so. We’re providing data, and facts, and science, and we’re sure of what we’re presenting. But when you’re coming out and you’re challenging someone’s belief system, it’s almost like attacking their religion. So, I don’t block anybody. It’s very hard to do, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, telephone calls, or emails, I try to reach out and understand where they’re coming from: we’re coming from an oil and gas economy that has sustained Louisiana since Reconstruction years or shortly thereafter. And people will take it the wrong way that I’m anti-oil and gas or I just want to hurt the economy. So I understand that, but I always respond, “My currency is in the data, the facts. I do the math and the science, and this is what it’s telling us.”

And sometimes I have to remind people, I have a degree in meteorology, I’m one course shy of getting a degree in mathematics, I have minors in physics and chemistry. I know what I’ve been talking about, and on top of that, I’ve witnessed the trends. And these trends are exactly what the science is telling us, whether it’s hurricanes, whether it’s global sea level rise because of the heat of the ocean. We’re also rising. Louisiana’s on the front line because not only do we have to worry about sea level rise, we have to worry about coastal erosion and sedimentation, subsidence of the land. So we have multiple factors, and I try not to beat a on the head with everything, but I reiterate, “What if what you’re telling me is wrong, given we have coastal erosion, we have subsidence going on, and sea level rise, then we’re going to be in a very different look in southern Louisiana in the next 50 to 75 years. In our children’s, grandchildren’s lives, we’re going to see the coast of Louisiana changing.”

And we’ve already been seeing that with through use of satellite imagery. And I think what I want to do is not scare people, but this is what we’re observing. I’m not forecasting the future, but we’re observing these trends right now, and these trends are increasing faster than we thought they would, whether it’s the heating of the ocean… And then, you have to get back to the air is warmer: that’s irrefutable, I think everybody’s buying that, and you got to tell them that the heat is being absorbed by the ocean, the carbon dioxide is being absorbed by the ocean. So, it’s multifactor, it’s affecting marine wildlife as well. And we’re part of the greatest mass extinction that we see going on across the globe because of the rapidly changing climate and an unnatural rise that we’re seeing.

Jeff Berardelli: You see, I don’t think Rob is passionate enough about this. I’m kidding anyway-

Rob Perillo: No, but… And to me, it’s about reaching out-

Jeff Berardelli: Yeah, we know. You’re very passionate. You come across very passionate.

Rob Perillo: Right.

Jeff Berardelli: No, I know that, and I think it’s so important to be sensitive to your audience’s needs and their beliefs. So, understanding your audience is very important. Alex is someone who understands her audience because she’s out there actually talking to people. I’m sitting behind a computer screen. But Alex, you’re out there interacting with the people in South Florida. So how about you? Do you think people understand now that we are having a big impact on the climate and the biosphere, so on and so forth? I mean, look at what’s happening in the Keys right now. We could wake up at the end of this year and almost all, if not all, coral could be dead.

Alex Harris: Right. And I think that people, like we’ve heard over and over on this call, people talk about the way they understand climate change is when it affects them. If you can bring people the reality of what a warmer world would look like to their doorstep, you can connect those dots. That’s what makes people change their mind. That’s what makes people understand the severity of the problem that sits before us.

Making things relevant is the most important job that local climate reporters have. People don’t really care about the polar bears and the ice flow. They don’t care about big, gigantic reports nationally. They care about that hurricane that is currently in the far Eastern Atlantic coming towards my house? Is it going to hit me? And is it going to be stronger because of what we have done to the atmosphere, the unchecked global warming that we have as humans have just let happen?

But kind of want to jump to what Stephanie Aubert’s question is here because I think that’s a good one. She’s talking about she avoids terms like climate change and global warming because they’re triggering and can sometimes close off an audience, which is interesting because another question down here is someone saying should we be saying climate emergency or climate crisis? But Stephanie’s question is, can you talk more about ways to address climate issues without hitting triggering keywords?

So what I will tell you is that I’ve learned in eight or nine years of doing this, more people care about hurricanes than they care about climate change. Those stories always get more clicks. Those stories always have higher readership. But the way I’ve learned is you don’t necessarily have to make every climate change story a climate headline story. You bring it in, you explain it like it’s the fact and the context that it is, the same way that if you’re writing a story about housing, you talk about how many renters versus how many owners there are in a community when you talk about a housing shortage.

When you’re writing about hurricanes and you’re going to talk about climate change, you mention what we know. You say, we know this. We don’t know this. We’re kind of unsure about this. You just bring it in naturally because that’s what it is. It’s just a foregone conclusion. We know that it has an impact. Put it in there. It doesn’t have to be the headline, it doesn’t have to be the lead. It can be. But don’t be afraid to just put it in like the context it deserves to be in a lot of your stories.

So for instance, we wrote about the ways that climate change can and cannot affect hurricanes. We did a Q&A style last year after Ian, and that was well read. But most of the time we wrote about the Ian storm surge and how deadly it was because it’s the biggest threat that that storm brought to the Southwest Coast last year. We talked just in quick little lines, storm surge, which is made worse by sea level rise and unchecked human climate change. You can just bring it in a little bit more towards the bottom in context without putting it in 56 point font with three exclamation points after it. And that’s worked for me because what people really care about is, like we’ve all talked about, how does this affect me, my life, my wallet, my school, my kids. Tell me how it matters to me, and then also tell me why the connection is made.

Jeff Berardelli: So I’ll just add for me specifically, Alex, the opportunity unfortunately that the death of coral has brought about for the people of South Florida, and really all across Florida. There are a lot of people who dive. There are a lot of people who fish. There are a lot of people who kayak. There are a lot of people who make their livelihood off the ocean here in Florida. There are a lot of people who enjoy nature. Or there are just a lot of people who love to go to the Florida Keys.

Well, guess what? Coral is the biggest attraction. Coral’s not around anymore, it’s going to kill businesses in some of the best places that we all love to visit when we go to the Florida Keys. Unfortunately for us, this opportunity this year of connecting an A to B, exact A to B, hey, hotter water, the trend is three degrees in the last 40 years, three degrees Fahrenheit, increase in water temperatures in the Florida Keys since 1985. That’s directly related to climate change. And it’s pushed every year past a bleaching threshold. This year, it’s just been for like 22 weeks we’ve been past the bleaching threshold. So I’m just saying what a great opportunity to make the connection. At the same time, it’s an unfortunate opportunity. So a couple last words from everybody, and then I got to toss it back to Mark in about two minutes or so. So John, I’ll start with you. Last words from you.

John Morales: Well, this is a line that I’ve been saying for a few years now. If there’s ever been a time to be courageous about reporting on a subject matter, it’s now. You want to be on the right side of history on this. And I want journalists in particular to understand that reporting on science is not like regular reporting. You were trained in your J schools to present two sides to every story. The scientific method doesn’t yield two sides.

I mean the scientific method, which I’m not going to go through right now, but you go through that process, and after you do your experimentation and you try to prove your hypothesis, if your observations and your experimentation helps you support that hypothesis, then you’re headed down the right track. And we’ve been doing that with the original hypothesis of maybe 50 or 80 years ago or 100 years ago, that the Earth would warn because of greenhouse gases. We’ve been through that and we’ve been observing, and we’ve been proving that hypothesis correct. And we continue to iterate because that’s the last step of the scientific process. Iteration, go back to check and recheck and refine the science.

And what is the result? The result is that it’s us, that it’s serious, but that there are solutions. So why don’t you mix in some solutions as well? Just do not fall into a trap of false equivalency, which is a pet peeve of mine with journalists. Alex, sorry, you never do this, but you know what I mean. Science is not like that. You have to present the science and the state of the science as it stands with the proper experts. And not looking under a rock for supposed experts, which are only trying to confuse the American public on the subject. Anyway, I said a lot, but those are my final words.

Jeff Berardelli: That’s a good point. And that’s the truth. There are no serious scientists in the world at this point who don’t believe in the direct connection between the burning of fossil fuels and a heated climate and more extreme weather. Rob, I’ll bring you in, and then Alex, you can have the last word.

Rob Perillo: Yeah, I just try. When I give a presentation, whether it’s a Rotary or on the air, whatever, I always mention that my information is apolitical. It has no political affiliation. I don’t have the opportunity to suggest solutions. But when we have journalists, when we have hopefully other meteorologists, and you write your stories, always be accepting of the other person’s perspective, and try to say, “Well, that’s an opinion,” where I have opinions as well, but I don’t share opinions. I share facts and data and I keep it apolitical.

And what I would like to see, not only from journalists, but other meteorologists across the country, you don’t see a whole lot tackling climate for fear of losing the popularity factor within their feeds, whether it’s Twitter or Facebook. And that’s out the window now. You have to be able to be true to yourself, true to the understanding of the science, and be willing to take the hits. Maybe it’s easier for me because I’m 62, I’m getting closer to retirement. It may not make as much of a difference in my social media career or my legacy. But you have to be able to speak the truth, and then take the blowback and try to accept people from where they are at and just try. And I try, every week I have two or three people where I reach out and I’ll give them a couple of bullet points, and if you want to read more. But this is not an opinion, these are the facts, and just work it from that aspect.

Jeff Berardelli: Great. And Alex, how about you?

Alex Harris: Well, I just want to say that my generation is really, really, really worried about climate change. So I hear from younger readers constantly that are worried about doom and gloom. They think that there’s not going to be a livable future for them. So it’s really important to me when I’m writing about things like climate change and hurricanes, or any other way that climate change touches the future that we’re going to have, that I remind people that yes, we know it’s happening. We know it’s us, which seems to be understood by younger generations at a faster clip than older generations, but that there is hope, there are solutions.

And the solutions aren’t something wildly out of reach that we’re waiting for the next technological ground break to get us there. There are things we can do right this second in your local community, in your home, in your life that will put us on a path to a future where the impacts of climate change are not as severe, and more people get to live in an equitable and just world. So I think about that whenever I write climate stories. Sometimes it comes through, sometimes it doesn’t. But I hope you all think about that and remember that there are hope, there are solutions, and that we can help by pointing people in the right direction.

Jeff Berardelli: Great. All right, I’m going to bring Mark Hertsgaard back into the conversation. Mark, hopefully you’re satisfied with the conversation.

Mark Hertsgaard: Excellent work, my dear esteemed colleagues. I think this has been very helpful today. I want to just underscore a couple of points. Something that Alex said early on to all of us as journalists, look, the audience out there, they know that something is going on. It’s our job to explain what that something is. And there’s a lot of material you’ve heard today. But also please look at the material that we have on the Covering Climate Now website. A lot of what we discussed today is already there on the website, can give you shortcuts really to making this story vivid and understandable and not threatening to your audience.

We like to say that there’s three keys to really good climate journalism, and you’ve heard them today actually. Humanize, localize, solutionize. By which we mean make it human. Talk about, yes, that hurricane is coming to your community, if it is. And localize it so that it is something that people are thinking about can happen to them. And solutionize, which I know is not a proper English word, but you know what I mean. We have got to say what, again, the science says, the latest UN climate science says. We have the technologies to limit the temperature rise on this planet to 1.5 C. We have all of them.

It’s not a lack of technology, it’s a lack of political action. And that is something that our audiences can affect because they can vote here in at least the United States. You can vote. And that’s arguably the single most important solution. Because we’re going to need strong government action to deal with climate change. And it’s up to you as a citizen in a democracy to inform yourself. And it’s up to us as the media to inform the public. We can’t tell them who to vote for and we shouldn’t, but we sure can tell them this is what candidate X or party Y says about climate change.

And by the way, don’t do what Fox did the other night on the first GOP presidential debate where you ask the candidates, do you believe in global warming? The proper question is what is your plan to deal with the climate crisis? What do you want to do about it? It’s not a question whether there’s a crisis. What do you want to do about it? So with that, again, I’ll just turn you… Remember, come to the website where, by the way, you can also sign the climate emergency statement. There was a question here about should we be talking about climate emergency?

There’s an idea that that’s an activist term. Activists use that term because scientists use that term, friends. There’s 11,000 of them that have signed a peer-reviewed journal article talking about we have a climate emergency. That’s why Covering Climate Now has urged our colleagues throughout the media to say, we have to ground our coverage in science. To call it a climate emergency is not advocacy. It’s not activism. It’s fact.

And one last pitch for Covering Climate Now. We are having a conference in New York at the Columbia Journalism School during New York Climate Week, September 21 and 22, called Climate Changes Everything: Creating a Blueprint for Media Transformation. We’re going to try and talk about how all of us as journalists can push the media around the world to take up our coverage to the next level and really do justice to what is more and more going to be the defining story of the 21st century.

So I’ll close by thanking each one of our panelists. You guys were great today. We’re probably going to have to have you back. Keep your eyes, everybody. Follow all these folks. I mean, these are the people that I as a journalist follow when I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with hurricanes. So Jeff, Rob, Alex, John, thank you so much. And to all of you, our fellow colleagues, we thank you for being here today and we wish you a very pleasant day. I’m Mark Hertsgaard for Covering Climate Now. All right. Very well done folks.