Wicked Problems
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1.5C in the rearview. Part 2. Susan Joy Hassol.

1.5C in the rearview. Part 2. Susan Joy Hassol.

On translating climate science to English, from one of the world's most respected climate communicators.

At the urging of small and vulnerable island nations, the 2015 Paris Agreement set a goal of limiting warming from climate change to 1.5 degrees C. In the years since, the language of that goal has crept into thousands of corporate sustainability reports, media discourse, and the language of international climate diplomacy. According to Google, the volume of searches about “1.5C” was 4x what it was then the Paris Agreement was signed - suggesting the goal has sunk in.

Then, last week two research papers - in Nature Climate Change from a team mostly at Imperial College London and Oxford Open Climate Change from a team led by legendary climate scientist James Hansen - suggested that it is now virtually impossible to remain under 1.5C.

If we’ve been telling that story for 8 years, including that number - saying the path to stay under 1.5 is still open, and it’s increasingly sunk in to a wider and wider audience - what happens when the science says that the narrative is no longer supported by the evidence? What now?

Our first episode centred around a conversation with author and clean energy analyst Ketan Joshi. You can go back and listen to it first but this episode works fine on its own.

For the second part of this Wicked Problems mini-series,

spoke to one of the world’s most respected climate science communicators, Susan Joy Hassol. She is director of Climate Communication. For 30 years, she has been translating climate science into English - making it digestible for the public and policymakers. She's written and edited key climate reports, including the first three US National Climate Assessments; she’s testified to the US Senate; she’s written a documentary for HBO. In just the last two years she has written 15 op-eds for outlets including the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Guardian, the Indepdendent, Scientific American, and many others. For her service in making climate science understandable, she has been made a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). And this year she was named Friend of the Planet 2023 by the National Centre for Science Education.

courtesy of Susan Joy Hassol

For more of Susan Joy Hassol’s work:

Other resources mentioned in the show:

Thanks for listening. If you liked this conversation, please consider sharing it with someone else you think needs talking down off the 1.5C ledge.

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Wicked Problems
Wicked Problems - Climate Tech Conversations (Subscriber Feed)
A show about climate tech - the intersection of people, politics, technology, and capital that will help shape the future. And whether you'd want to live in it.