While climate change experts like Craig Brown, founder and director of Common Dreams, have no doubt about the underlying impact of our changing climate, they say the media is doing little to make the issue clear to its audience. “We just passed the 333rd consecutive month of global temperatures above the 20th-century average. Climate scientists now say it’s growing worse faster than any of them predicted even a few years ago. And yet, US press coverage of climate change is actually down from its peak in 2007,” said Brown.
The disturbing conclusion is hard to ignore. Sensational storm coverage makes ratings, while coverage of climate change is complex, scientific, and often controversial.
Until early June, the trend toward adrenaline-driven coverage seemed likely to rise even if the number of storms was on the decline. But then, tragedy struck. Tim Samaras, Carl Young, and Samaras’s 24-year-old son, Paul, were killed during an Oklahoma storm while filming Storm Chasers. Their death, and Zee’s close personal and professional relationship with them and their Discovery series, has begun to raise serious questions about the line between the adrenaline-fueled world of Storm Chasers and the more serious worlds of science and journalism. It seems to be a line that’s become dangerously blurred.
But unless trends change,Tyndall’s data says that this year, ABC will feature the most extreme weather ever for the network, potentially double the 2012 minutes logged. That as the larger subject of climate change remains, according to his data, essentially unreported.