Hurricane Michael was captured from the International Space Station on Oct. 10. Photo: NASA/ISS

There was a quiet change this week in the tone of climate coverage. Long siloed, the conversation took on at least a temporary new urgency and insistence after a UN report predicting dire effects as soon as 2040 — just 22 years from now.

Why it matters: If there was any doubt that this should be story #1, it was laid to rest by the combination of this report and the events of this week: An astonishingly strong hurricane, which ravaged the Gulf Coast, was forming at the same time scientists held a press conference in Incheon, South Korea, to release the findings.

Insights about Sunday night's UN report:

  • It wasn't expected to get the blanket coverage that it did. It was easier to assume that reporters would dismiss it as 'scientists call for totally unrealistic thing to happen.'
  • However, the sense of urgency came with which these scientists approached their work, and the message they intended to send — that the warming impacts we thought we'd see at higher amounts of warming, we're already seeing.
  • Time's up: It's take action now, or pay for it later.
  • Unfortunately, some stories may have gone too far, and conveyed a 'Time's up: It's act now or we all die' sort of message, which isn't accurate and is utterly immobilizing.

Some publications have recognized this more than others: Climate change is not just a political story. It's not a he said/she said thing anymore — the science is too clear, the impacts too obvious, the serious impacts as well as deployable solutions too imminent.

  • Now it's a business story, a human interest story, a legal story and increasingly a technology one as well.

The report lit a bigger fire than anticipated, since it said something not entirely new, but definitely more urgent.

  • Many climate experts tend to think, perhaps for sanity's sake, that we can't really be so stupid a species as to drive straight off the climate cliff. Yet so far, that's the direction we've been heading. This report was like a quick pit stop along that road, with everyone at a roadside diner warning us to turn around.

Go deeper: In a new story, Andrew talked with three scientists who have gravitas in terms of their research work, but are also skilled at humanizing the problem.

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did"
  2. Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: New York reports most COVID cases since MayStudies show drop in coronavirus death rate
  5. Education: San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.
  6. World: Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million cases — France becomes the 2nd
Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. officials: Iran and Russia aim to interfere in election

Iran and Russia have obtained voter registration information that can be used to undermine confidence in the U.S. election system, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced at a press conference Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: The revelation comes roughly two weeks before Election Day. Ratcliffe said Iran has sent threatening emails to Democratic voters this week in states across the U.S. and spread videos claiming that people can vote more than once.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting measure

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening blocked a lower court order that would have allowed voters to cast ballots curbside at Alabama polling places on Election Day.

Whit it matters: With less than two weeks until Election Day, the justices voted 5-3 to reinstate the curbside voting ban and overturn a lower court judge's ruling designed to protect people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.