Skip to main content

Earth Day 2022: SciLine Connects Journalists With the Science of Climate Change

For Earth Day 2022, organizers are coming together under the banner “Invest in Our Planet” and calling for “the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, our livelihoods” in the face of the climate crisis.

Learn more about how AAAS programs amplify the scientific evidence on climate change and support individuals and communities as they invest in our planet all year long.

At a recent SciLine media briefing, scientific experts briefed reporters on methane emissions and then took questions on the record. | SciLine

Sea level rise, methane emissions and the intricacies of attributing extreme weather events to climate change are just a few of the climate-related topics addressed in resources created by SciLine, the free service based at AAAS that connects journalists and scientists with the goal of imbuing journalism with scientific evidence.

Launched in 2017, SciLine offers services for both journalists and scientists. SciLine connects reporters on deadline with scientists, collects quotes from experts on timely subjects for use in news stories, hosts bootcamps and media briefings featuring experts on subjects ranging from COVID-19 to cannabis and creates fact sheets that summarize key issues. They also host trainings to help scientists understand journalists’ needs and improve their interview skills, and they work with scientists wishing to share their story ideas with reporters.

“By focusing primarily on local reporters—who are typically not science specialists but are skilled and highly trusted in their communities—we have a unique opportunity to fight climate misinformation and inform consumers about research-validated climate solutions,” said SciLine director Rick Weiss, a former longtime Washington Post science reporter. “At the same time, we’re able to offer media opportunities to climate scientists interested in sharing their expertise.”

Most recently, SciLine conducted brief interviews with contributors to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group reports, then shared with reporters video clips of those scientists answering questions about what the reports say about climate change impacts in the United States and how the findings can inform the work of policymakers and community members planning climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. Separately, SciLine has arranged for climate scientists to make virtual, Zoom-based visits to local TV and radio newsrooms to help reporters and editors brainstorm possible climate-related story ideas. 

SciLine has also created a three-part “quick facts” series for reporters on the fast-evolving science of extreme event attribution: “Extreme weather events such as life-threatening heat waves and record-breaking downpours are part of the natural climate system, but some kinds of extreme weather events have become more common in recent decades,” the document explains in its introduction. “Scientific advances are allowing researchers to determine the extent to which climate change contributed to some extreme weather events.”

“Uncertain about the science, many reporters covering extreme weather might shy away from talking about the extent to which climate change may be to blame,” Weiss said. “With these resources, vetted by outside scientists, reporters can get specific about what’s known and not worry about under- or overstating the facts.”

[Associated image: Pixel-Shot/Adobe Stock]


Andrea Korte

Related Focus Areas