Reporting on climate change can be complex, given the sheer volume of data and interrelationships between issues like global warming, pollution and sea level rise, among others. To convey messages in a relatable and objective way, journalists seek to provide context, stories and visualisations that don’t leave room for misinterpretation.
In this second episode of PARIS21’s new podcast “Climate change: Behind the numbers”, Alan Smith, Head of Visual and Data Journalism at the Financial Times, joins hosts Johannes Jütting and Sasha Ramirez-Hughes for a conversation on temperature records, and the use of data visualisation and storytelling to engage audiences, incentivise change in behaviour and combat fake news.
In his talk, he highlights the number 53.8 degrees, which represents the extreme temperature swing recorded in the United Arab Emirates during the first half of 2021, where recorded temperatures went from -2 degrees Celsius in January to 51.8 degrees Celsius in the summer.
As a former Head of Digital Content at the UK’s Office for National Statistics, he also shares his thoughts on what it comes down to when national statistical offices want their statistics to be relevant.
“When you compile and publish statistics you first need to know if they are fit for purpose. You need to know what this purpose is and what you compile the statistics for. Statisticians have all the insights and they should be shared. Saying nothing about the statistics you publish is not necessarily neutral,” Alan Smith concludes.