The new IPCC report is dire. Does anyone care?

The new IPCC report is dire. Does anyone care?

Buried beneath news of COVID, a past President, and a soon-to-be ex-governor, America barely seems aware of the dire new climate report.

The 2021 report from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) went well beyond the relatively sedate tones of its prior assessments.


Impacts of climate change are already here, and some are "irreversible" for centuries, or even millennia, to come.

The IPCC counsels that strong actions – i.e., the kind we seem unwilling to take – are imperative, and the need for action immediate.

America's print leaders are largely woke, with the New York Times regularly giving up page one real estate for more climate coverage. The Washington Post and the Associated Press are not far behind.

But American TV news? Not so much. On Monday, when the report released, the CBS Evening News played the story fourth from the top, after COVID-19. The other news developments—Trump's continuing travails and Cuomo's potential resignation—topped the show. There's no doubt that all three are lead-story-worthy, as were the monumental wildfires in the U.S. West, Arctic Siberia, Greece, and Turkey, and the epic rain and flooding in Germany, particularly since such weather calamities are a part of the climate outlook. A week earlier, temperate Portland , Oregon, hit an otherworldly 118°F, while Canada hit its all-time high.

The other networks were only slightly better. Then, by Tuesday, Andrew Cuomo's resignation dominated. By Wednesday, climate news had vanished from the networks.

Well, not all of them.

If a world without more floods, droughts and lethal heat waves does not sound like the world you want to live in, Fox News has its own take. Fox's in-house comic, Greg Gutfeld, gifted us with ten minutes of climate mirth.

His hallucinatory conclusion? Since a recent report said that more Americans die from excessive cold than excessive heat, we should welcome global warming as a lifesaver.

So, where does this leave us?

Well, we should acknowledge that we are screwed. Partly. The IPCC tells us that we're too late to stop many of the long-predicted impacts, but not all. Pushing the long-promoted remedies – clean energy, EV's, and so much more – that can steer us away from the worst case. But pair that optimism with a steely pushback against climate deniers, who still hold sway with too many in office.

There will be no better opportunity to put a dent in climate denial than right now, when so many of the climate deniers are the same folks whose COVID denial is costing lives yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And we can take a clue from the COVID crisis on another front. Whether by design or default, COVID messaging has largely lined up behind one person, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Clear-minded, thick-skinned, smart and ubiquitous, Fauci's acquired hero status as a good-natured warrior-in-residence against the virus.

Does that remind anyone of a climate warrior-in-residence? Well, how 'bout Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University?

If he's not there already, I'd say that he's the Mann. Tireless, even-tempered, and ever-so-slightly snarky with his critics, Dr. Mann should by no means be the only spokesperson, but like Fauci, I've come to regard him as the go-to. But without either the gravitas or the baggage of a government title. Dr. Mann, I nominate you for this unpaid, un-credentialed, thankless title.

You're welcome.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher, Environmental Health Sciences.

Banner photo credit: Richard Rydge/flickr

offshore wind developers eyeing Louisiana

World's biggest offshore wind developers eyeing Louisiana for Gulf's first turbines

The Texas coast may have better winds for offshore wind development, but it’s Louisiana’s political winds that are drawing the interest of the industry’s two biggest players.
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Drought-resistant farming

Drought-resistant farming catching on in New Mexico

More farmers are using cover crops, soil additives and crops suitable for drip irrigation in order to weather the drought.
Norco adventure game exemplifies global warming

Mapping climate grief, one pixel at a time

Norco, an indie adventure game about an oil town menaced by global warming, is a striking contribution to American landscape art.
selling more electric cars in America

The simplest way to sell more electric cars in America

Decades-old laws that protect car dealers are keeping the U.S. stuck in the gas-powered past.
Arctic oil barges go aground in icy Kara Sea

Major disaster averted in icy Kara Sea after two oil barges ran aground

Russia’s Marine Rescue Service describes the unprecedented salvage operation as "extremely difficult" as ice was rapidly building up on the structures of the barges in the freezing cold polar night.

climate causes energy conocophillips
Photo by Esse Chua on Unsplash

ConocoPhillips’ plan for extracting half-a-billion barrels of crude in Alaska’s fragile Arctic presents a defining moment for Joe Biden

After the Trump administration rushed through the Willow Project in its waning days, a federal judge temporarily halted development pending additional review. Environmentalists want Biden to kill Willow once and for all.

climate data research
Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

Lisa Goddard, 55, dies; brought climate data to those who needed it

Lisa Goddard helped show government agencies around the world how to predict upcoming droughts, flooding and other extreme weather events.

From our Newsroom
Africa cooking pollution

What do new cookstoves in Ghana and air conditioners in NYC have in common? Energy justice.

Combating energy poverty and energy insecurity are critical elements to achieving environmental health equity for billions worldwide.

dr. fauci

Peter Dykstra: Life imitates climate politics—again.

Personal, misinformed attacks on Dr. Fauci are reminiscent of climate spats over the decades.

Don't look up climate change

Hollywood’s third strike on climate change?

"Don't Look Up" is ambitious—but trips over its subject matter.

environmental news

5 popular reads from our newsroom in 2021

Check out what sparked readers' interest over the past year.

journalism

Our top 5 long reads of 2021

Check out must-read, in-depth reporting from the past year.

butterfly

Our top 5 good news stories of 2021

It's not all doom and gloom.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.