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20Dec 2013

A Stark, Moving Popularization of IPCC Report

Haiku and artwork by Gregory C. Johnson

Most of us would not expect to be moved by the Summary for Policymakers Working Group 1 Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. But why not, considering what it says about the fate of the only planet we can inhabit for the foreseeable future?

Journalistic treatments helped, but oceanographer Gregory C. Johnson took popularizing the scientific work  to a new level, paring it down to something so simple it’s hard not to feel a lump in the throat. While he was reportedly stuck at home with a cold, the University of Washington scientist turned the 2013 IPCC report into haiku, accompanied by his own watercolor paintings.

It’s a cute idea, but in the execution it transcends the cleverness. It starts out as an entertaining diversion but leaves you disturbed, and sad.  

Every policy maker should read it to get to the heart of the matter. Journalists should read it for inspiration. It is possible to be moving without being manipulative.

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