Could The Media’s Silence On Climate Change Finally Be Ending? (Video)

“Judging by the climate coverage to date, most of the US news media still don’t get grasp the seriousness of this issue. This journalistic failure has given rise to a calamitous public ignorance, which in turn has enabled politicians and corporations to avoid action.”

This is what a jointly authored article from The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review noted earlier this year.

It reinforces what Media Matters recently reported about the five major Sunday morning political television shows that featured “only a combined total of two segments that included at least a substantial reference to climate change” after a record-breaking heatwave afflicted much of the Midwest and East Coast this summer, killing at least six people.

Media Matters also revealed that from August 28th to September 5th, the week Hurricane Dorian hit, major TV networks ran 216 segments about Dorian, but only one mentioned climate change.

A recent Public Citizen study found that of the 363 articles the leading print publications devoted to Hurricane Dorian, only nine mentioned climate change.

Fewer than one-half of the 50 largest newspapers in the country covered the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s dire report predicting a window of only 10 to 12 years to halt coal consumption and slash carbon dioxide emissions to prevent mass food shortages, climate-induced homelessness, mass migrations, failing infrastructure, and more catastrophic weather that could climb into the billions annually.

The corporate media’s virtual silence on the most urgent crisis facing humanity has kept people in the dark for far too long.

But according to a CBS News poll, more than a quarter of Americans understand climate change’s urgency and want to see immediate action to address it–despite the media’s efforts to ignore it.

As clinical psychologist and founder of the Climate Mobilization Project, Margaret Klein Salamon, stated:

“Americans are finally beginning waking up to the existential threat that the climate emergency poses to our society.”

She added:

“It’s young people that have been primarily responsible for that.”

So more than 250 media outlets around the world are joining The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review’s major new project–“Covering Climate Now”–to improve climate crisis coverage ahead of next week’s U.N. Climate Action Summit.

One of “Covering Climate Now” co-founders, Mark Hertsgaard, co-author of “A New Beginning for Climate Reporting” and environment correspondent and investigative editor for The Nation, stated during an interview this week on Democracy Now!:

“I’ve been reporting on climate change since the 1990s, and I spent a lot of that decade traveling around the world. And it’s been clear ever since then that the U.S. media is about 10 years behind the media in Europe and Asia in reporting the climate crisis. First of all, we don’t mention it, as you just talked about. And when we do do the climate story, we often get it wrong…For many years we had this false balance, where we felt that if we had on a real NASA scientist talking about climate science, that somehow, to be fair to the audience, we also had to have on somebody who said the climate science was bunk. And that person was usually just a paid propagandist for the fossil fuel industry. So, there is not a proud history here on the part of the media.”

Most major American public radio stations are participating in the “Covering Climate Now” project, as are media outlets from all over the world, such as The Times of India; the biggest newspaper in Japan, Asahi Shimbun; the biggest newspaper in Italy, La Repubblica. Some American participants include the San Francisco Chronicle, the Seattle Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mark Hertsgaard explained:

“About 70%, 69%, of the American people expect that the next president takes serious climate action. There’s 56% of the public wants action right now, and another 13% want action in the next few years, meaning in the term of the incoming president. That is a very striking number that I think politicians in both parties need to be paying attention to.”


Nothing will escape climate change’s ravages.

International borderseconomiesfood and water supplies, health, education, transportation, energy sources, are all predicted to change with the climate as the planet warms faster than scientists predicted.

We only have a window of 10 to 12 years to completely reverse our current course, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported late last year.

According to Michael Mann, esteemed Pennsylvania State University professor and director of the Earth Science Systems Science Center, the IPCC’s assessment is actually conservative, underestimating the amount of warming that has already occurred.

We actually have less carbon left to burn if we wish to avoid the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold the IPCC report cites.

We have already passed too many tipping points to avoid some of the climate’s most devastating effects, and many scientists theorize the world has begun a sixth mass extinction.

We need to take the fossil-fuel industry head-on, and that begins with the media’s reporting.

Corporate media remaining beholden to fossil fuel capital is not going to change anything.

As long as there is a profit motive, there will never be sufficient action to curb carbon emissions.

It only means the future of our planet, our children, grandchildren, and beyond.

Once it’s over, it’s over.

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Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.