TV Media Ignore IPCC Extreme Weather Report

by Jill Fitzsimmons, in a Media Matters cross-post

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a summary report on the risks posed by climate disasters. The report says climate change will likely worsen certain extreme weather events like heat waves, floods, droughts and storms.

This could be costly for the U.S., which has already experienced a record number of weather disasters this year, resulting in economic costs of almost $50 billion. The report discusses strategies for reducing vulnerability to extreme weather events.

The panel’s findings have been reported by every major print outlet in the U.S., but have been almost entirely ignored by the television news media, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC and CBS. The only mention of the U.N. report on a major TV news outlet was a segment on NBC Nightly News.

This is not the first time television networks have made time for stories that are less than newsworthy, but not for important developments in climate change science.

This is not surprising coming from Fox News, which systematically sows doubt about climate science and ignores evidence confirming that climate change is a real threat.

But this trend is especially problematic because television is still the primary source of news for most Americans.

And surveys suggest that inadequate and often inaccurate climate coverage has taken a toll. In August, a Rasmussen Reports poll found that 57 percent of adults believe there is significant disagreement within the scientific community about climate change – a five point leap from 2009. A 2010 survey found that regular Fox News viewers were 30 points more likely than those who never watched Fox to disagree with the statement, “Most scientists believe that climate change is occurring.”

In reality, the vast majority of scientists agree that human activity is impacting our climate. As the new report demonstrates, the consequences are severe, even more so if we do not begin to address our vulnerabilities to climate extremes.

— Jill Fitzsimmons is a researcher with Media Matters for America. This piece was originally published at the Media Matters website.

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10 Responses to TV Media Ignore IPCC Extreme Weather Report

  1. prokaryotes says:

    Dramatic climate change expected to be the norm

    ALBANY, N.Y. – Devastating floods, caused by the remnants of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, are among the climate change effects predicted in a new report written by 50 scientists and released this past week by the state’s energy research agency.

    The 600-page report, called ClimAID, was intended as a resource for planners, policymakers, farmers and residents.

    The study predicts average annual temperatures in New York state will rise by 4 to 9 degrees by 2080 and precipitation will rise by 5 to 15 percent, with most of it in the winter. It predicts that along the seacoast and tidal portion of the Hudson River, the sea level will rise by 1 to 5 inches by the 2020s and 8 to 23 inches by the 2080s. If melting of polar ice caps is factored in, sea level is projected to rise 37 to 55 inches by the 2080s, the report says.

    Among the specific regional effects predicted in the report are:

    » Native brook trout and Atlantic salmon will decline, but bass will flourish in warmer waters.

    » Great Lakes water levels will fall.

    » Apple varieties, such as McIntosh and Empire, will fare poorly, but vineyards will benefit.

    » Milk production will decrease.

    » Coastal wetlands will be inundated and saltwater will extend farther up the Hudson River.

    » Adirondack and Catskill spruce-fir forests will disappear.

    » Invasive insects, weeds and other pests will increase.

    » Electrical demand will increase in warm months.

    “Climate change is already beginning to affect the people and resources of New York state, and these impacts are projected to grow,” the ClimAID authors wrote. “At the same time, the state has the potential capacity to address many climate-related risks, thereby reducing negative impacts and taking advantage of possible opportunities.”|dnmiss|umbrella|1

    Opportunities, Yes look on the bright side of it, rofl.

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    There is only one possible solution here: a new television network financed by advertising from progressive companies such as Google, Apple, Patagonia, and maybe even companies like Toyota.

    All of the networks are hopeless. If they had even mentioned the IPCC report they would have trotted out someone like Spencer or Curry to cast doubt on it. They obey their advertisers, period. Cable channels are no better, as Discover just showed with the Planet Earth censorship.

    The new network would attract more talent all the way around, and would eventually make Fox and the rest of them look like the silly dinosaurs they have always been.

  3. Jeff Huggins says:


    I saw an article or two recently — was it yesterday? — about folks from the largest developed countries saying that it will probably be 2020 before any global climate change deal could, or might, be implemented.

    The articles said that, at the earliest, such a deal might be struck in 2016.

    Will CP be covering those articles and that “development”, for discussion here?

    And how should that “development” help us assess our own current efforts, Obama’s efforts, the present situation, and what we’ll need to do differently?

    For example, it strikes me as interesting — and deeply sad — and deeply disappointing — and indeed nearly disastrous — that the U.S. will be heading into the Durban talks just as Obama has decided to delay his decision regarding Keystone XL and just as the Obama Admin and EPA are coming off of a string of decisions that delay action on climate change and various environmental ills. The assessment (of folks in the articles just mentioned) that there is little possibility of a climate deal before 2016 essentially puts that date in the very last year of Obama’s second term, if he gets a second term — and an election year, no less.

    So, what does THAT say? What does THAT mean? How did THAT come about?

    How did we get from that night in November of 2008, when we elected Obama and thought that he would help LEAD the effort to address climate change, to today, when people are saying that no global deal will be likely until 2016 or later?

    Assessment, please!

    And, may I ask, what will the U.S. folks at Durban have to say — what credibility will they have? — given that Obama can’t even bring himself to say NO to the Keystone XL pipeline?

    I look forward to the coverage.

    Thanks, Be Well,


  4. Wes Rolley says:

    The following excerpted from a post at PBS station KQED’s Climate Watch blog, addresses the effects on California’s agriculture.

    “The thing that makes climate extremes difficult to analyze is that they’re extreme,” says Field, meaning they don’t happen often enough to provide a lot of data. “We’ve only been doing careful drought monitoring for a few decades.” Speaking to me by phone from Kampala, Uganda, where today’s report was released, he said “We shouldn’t be looking for absolute certainty of a certain disaster at a certain time. We should be looking for smart things to do that prepare us for a range of outcomes.”

    One thing is sure: People are paying more attention lately. Extreme weather has become the most visible hallmark of climate change.

    “We’re seeing a more acute sensitivity to the weather and to the climate,” says David Friedberg, CEO of the San Francisco-based Climate Corp. Friedberg’s start-up offers insurance against catastrophic climate events, to farmers and businesses. “When you speak to farmers, for example,” says Friedberg, “they speak about the fact that the last couple of years’ weather isn’t anything like they’ve experienced or any of the generations past have experienced in farming their land.”

    “It was only three years ago when we saw a billion dollars worth of crop loss in the citrus industry, here in the Central Valley of California, as the result of an unusually prolonged freeze event,” says Friedberg. “And that sort of a freeze event we nearly hit again a year later.”

    “We’re starting to see those effects,” Friedberg told me in an interview, just before the report was released. “We just happen to be a much more diversified agricultural economy here in California. So it doesn’t take just one weather event to wipe out all of the farmers.”

    Friedberg says the UN has already attributed rising prices of some commodities to increasing weather volatility around the world. “As you’re getting more volatile weather, farmers need to charge more for their crops because we’re having more losses globally, than we had before.”

    Today’s report is the first in which the IPCC has taken on the question of extreme weather events linked to climate change. It’s been a focus of speculation lately because, as Field says, “That’s where the impacts pile up.” An insurance industry survey recently tallied $14 billion in losses in the US this year alone, from catastrophic weather events.

  5. Tom Lenz says:

    We need a climate dedicated Occupy MSM movement, yesterday. Shame Shame Shame!

  6. Maybe the reason is that TV is the media of the aging boomers. You know, the people that caused the problem and don’t want to pay to fix it.

    The youth that will be most impacted mostly turn to other screens first, like internet and smart phones.

    Here are some TV geezer facts:

    * The median age of network TV watchers just hit 50. For the nation as a whole: 38.

    * If you look at ad-supported cable channels, it is the news channels that have the oldest viewers.

    * The oldest of all viewerships is Fox News Channel’s daytime and primetime schedules with a median age above 65.

    Just more confirmation that it is the boomer generation that has both caused the problem and is the most resistant to doing anything about it. In particular it is the older white male that is preventing action to stabilize our weather system in time to avoid misery for the youth.

    Just look at GOP.

    The good news is that the people that need to change have the dollars to do it. The bad news is that the boomer generation is hunkering into an immoral belligerence as their final act.

  7. ANY TV weatherperson knows that if you keep missing on the weather forecasts, you lose viewers.

    Not very bright of them.

  8. Peter Mizla says:

    The Media will continue to ignore the coming and growing climate catastrophe to the very end, when it becomes no longer economically viable.

    Trouble is by the time they throw in the towel and admit that climate change is real and a dire threat, it will be far too late.

    In 50 years- if this civilization survives in some distorted way, people will ask ‘why’.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    2016 is bulldust. When we get to, say, 2014, they’ll put it back to 2018, and so on. We must face one bedrock truth. The fossil fuel business represents the greatest pile of cold, hard, cash in history. The capitalists will do anything (we haven’t even reached the point where they mobilise violence, rather than merely threaten it)to keep it ticking over, producing wealth for them to loot and accumulate. The future of humanity, in a make-believe time when they will be dead, interests them not one iota.

  10. Nitin Akash says:

    We are on a suicidal course! We can not avoid danger by closing our eyes, none the less, prepare for coming events!