ZME Science stance on communicating the climate crisis

Like other publishers before us, we are updating our stance on how we communicate and report on the current climate situation. This is done to reflect the severity and urgency of the crisis we are facing.

We will favor terms such as “climate emergency” and “climate crisis”, although the more established “climate change” and “global warming” are not banned. “Climate heating” will be used as a more precise version of “climate change.” People who reject climate science will be referred to as “deniers” or “contrarians”, not “skeptics”.

Efforts will be made to mention, as often as possible, that the current climate events are driven by human activities. In addition, we recommend that articles discussing all aspects related to the current climate crisis have at least a brief mention of the influence of climate change. It’s extremely difficult to say that climate change is causing a particular heatwave, but there is strong evidence showing that climate change makes heatwaves more likely and intense.

What is our position

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our generation. There is overwhelming, unequivocal evidence that the climate is warming and that it is happening due to human activities.

Greenhouse gases occur naturally on our planet and are essential to the survival of all life on Earth. However, after 150 years of industrialization, deforestation, and large-scale agriculture, the human contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gases has become so significant that it is changing the overall atmospheric energy balance. As the cumulative level of greenhouse gas emissions grows, it heats up the climate.

As a science outlet, we base our opinion and communication strategy on existing science, which is clear on the matter. We can argue about the intensity with which these changes will take place and severity, but in general terms, the phenomenon is well-defined.

As climate science continues to produce more results, we will adapt and finesse our position.

Why we are doing it

The goal is to communicate confidence in scientific information on the topic, as well as the urgency with which we need to act. For instance, “global heating” is a more accurate term than “global warming” — a position that is becoming more common among researchers — and it is also stronger in language. We don’t really mind it when it’s warm outside, but we do when it’s hot.

However, despite a virtual scientific consensus, some interest groups have sown discord on the matter, promoting climate change denial to the best of their ability. We believe that this is rarely done out of ignorance, and instead, it is a willful act, a dissimulation meant to conceal the truth about the climate crisis.

Their efforts have been successful and now, instead of taking vital action, many parts of society are trapped in a fruitless debate about whether climate heating is happening at all. This debate is purely political — not scientific. Therefore, it is more important than ever to properly address these climatic changes.

We must also steer clear of the ‘false balance’  when discussing the climate. Debates featuring a climate scientist and a climate change denier are common. This format, presumably coming from the journalistic intention of providing balance, has done more harm than good, suggesting that this is a balanced debate with equal arguments on both sides — when it is not. While we do not exclude any justified opinion from our coverage, we strive to provide real balance.

Why it matters

While there are minor disagreements about the timeline, the evidence is clear: we have a limited period to act or face catastrophic consequences. We’re already seeing the effects. Glaciers have diminished, heatwaves and droughts have become more common and intense, and the weather is becoming more and more extreme. Countless animals from all parts of the world, on land and in the oceans, are suffering from these effects — and mankind is not spared.

Climate change is a threat to our health, our economy, and quite possibly, our continued existence as a dominant species. It’s posing a risk to food supplies, it’s accentuating poverty, and causing cascading effects all over the world. The World Health Organization considers it a major threat to human health. In the face of these threats, we must emphasize the need for immediate action.

The phrase “climate change” sounds benign — whereas “climate crisis” demands more action. This action is needed for the wellbeing of our society. We feel that this is the best way to convey this message.

We will continue our best efforts to communicate events related to the current climate emergency as accurately as possible. This is an extremely important topic which the world needs to know about.

One thought on “ZME Science stance on communicating the climate crisis

  1. zoritoler imol

    hi!,I like your writing so much! share we communicate more about your post on AOL? I require a specialist on this area to solve my problem. May be that’s you! Looking forward to see you.

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