“Robert-Koch-Institute reports highest daily number of infections”, appears on the screen of my phone. The local newspaper lying on the kitchen table is titled with a similar headline, corona is issue number one in the evening TV-news, and my Instagram feed recommends a livestream of the government´s press conference.
One of the many privileges of holding a Professorship at the University of Hamburg and being involved in the Cluster of Excellence, which unites researchers from different disciplines around the issue of climate change (see CLICCS website ), is that you have the opportunity to meet and have lunch with highly inspiring and thought-provoking people such as Hans von Storch.
A new study by Samset et al. (2020) in Nature Communcations finds that even under strong and sustained mitigation efforts, it will take the climate system until mid-century to demonstrate a discernible cooling response. Unfortunately, we must accept and live with the frustrating fact that the global climate system is a rather gigantic tanker ship that will change its course only several decades after humanity has decided to pull the emissions steering wheel into another direction. Yet, we should also think about what may motivate immediate action to reduce the risk of climate collapse in the far future. Rather than only fixating on the nebulous, future benefits of present-day climate protection, I would suggest that communicators should focus on highlighting positive short-term side effects of climate protection measures.