Can ChatGPT write weather for me? –

Technologies and climate: Find the long version of the journalistic response

This experience gives me the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the operation, and to visit some journalism scullery along the way.

The art of asking the (right) questions

Recall the initial request to ChatGPT:

Can technology help us fight global warming? More specifically carbon capture technologies and solar geoengineering

Why this question? We did not choose it lightly. The aim was to find a factual question on the climate, which refers to ecomodernism – this somewhat controversial current of thought according to which it would be possible to preserve the environment using advanced techniques.

However, the two technological solutions mentioned have different degrees of maturity:

  • The issue of CO2 capture and storage comes up at every IPCC press conference, which now responds that these technologies may have a role to play by 2050 to finish decarbonizing our economies, in addition to other approaches. based on nature such as reforestation.

  • The issue of solar geoengineering is much more forward-looking — the technologies are clearly not ripe yet. I wanted to integrate it, out of curiosity, because I had attended a conference a few weeks earlier on the subject that had marked me. She opened Pandora’s box. in the name of scientific anticipation.

When the AI ​​asks the questions itself. We could have had ChatGPT choose the question itself. In this case, it would have been much more generic:



It would therefore be necessary to play Socratic “maieutics” with ChatGPT to help him give birth to the right questions. However, this is precisely what we journalists do when we choose the angle of our subjects, according to the news. It seems much easier to rely on the collective intelligence of a group of journalists during an editorial session…

What is a journalistic text?

As you will have understood, our job is not only to present information in written form. She must also be

  • attractive, so that you don’t pick up on the second line. This goes through the style of the text, but also its formatting, intertitles, illustrations…

  • digestible, so that the main issues emerge clearly and are understood.

  • if possible, colorful: it is better to have a clear example than a series of complicated words, especially when it comes to climate and IPCC reports.

Sometimes – even this was not the issue here – we create information for which there is no other written record yet (when we are the first on a subject, when we have a scoop, or when we report quotes from an expert). Remember that ChatGPT is only based on data taken from the web in 2021.

Finally, we must choose good sources and cite them correctly. Unlike the journalist, ChatGPT cannot pull out his address book and call a subject specialist. But it even sins in the management of cold sources, which we will see in a moment.

Several readers have well noted the encyclopedic style of AI. To improve the readability of the text, I wanted to ask ChatGPT to rewrite its text in a more journalistic way. He quickly executed:


ChatGPT does not know how to cite its sources. Miracle: Asked to write in a journalistic style, ChatGPT produces clearer text, with explicit sources. The problem is that the first source… simply does not exist.


Same thing for the second source proposed by the algorithm, not found. An online search leads to the conclusion that this is a fake study whose title was cobbled together from real scientific articles (“Solar geoengineering to reduce climate change: a review of governance proposals“, for instance).


Victory of the human over the machine. As explained Nicolas Sabouretprofessor of artificial intelligence,

“ChatGPT is designed to maximize the consistency of terms following each other in sentences. Not to minimize the level of error.”

In other words, when ChatGPT tells you who these sources are, its objective is not to tell you the truth… but to answer you with something plausible. In other words, human journalists still have a bright future ahead of them. And that’s my job saved — at least for a few more months.

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Can ChatGPT write weather for me? –

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