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As ‘Frankenstorm’ Barrels Towards East Coast, Newspaper Coverage Ignores Connection To Climate Change

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"As ‘Frankenstorm’ Barrels Towards East Coast, Newspaper Coverage Ignores Connection To Climate Change"

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Media have dubbed the hurricane barreling toward the mid-Atlantic and northeast a “Frankenstorm.” But despite the hysteria surrounding Hurricane Sandy, not one major newspaper has reported the scientifically established link that carbon pollution fuels more extreme weather.

In the last week, Sandy has been mentioned in at least 94 stories in major newspapers. Yet a Nexis search found that zero of these stories mentioned “climate change,” “global warming,” or even “extreme weather.”

For example, a New York Times article reported, “forecasters say, the storm could become, to use a technical term from meteorology, a whopper.” The Washington Post writes “It has the makings of a rare breed of storm, a confluence of things over a densely populated swath of America that may never have seen weather arrive with quite the same force or threaten to linger so long.” Tens of dozens of other Sandy reports don’t include even a passing mention that climate change makes this “whopper” more likely.

While a growing majority of Americans believe climate change is caused by humans, there is still a gulf between public understanding and the scientific consensus (and an even wider gulf on the need for action). There are a few reasons at work. The presidential candidates have been notoriously silent on climate change this election cycle, and left the issue untouched in the debates for the first time since 1988. Coordinated climate denial campaigns from groups like Heartland Institute also seek to undermine the science. However, the journalist habit of “false balance” only serves to elevate climate deniers’ platform.

Scientific studies show that global warming fuels deadlier storms and more flooding. Without action to cut carbon pollution, climate change means these storms are no longer “unprecedented” events.

Update

Politico made the climate connection in an article on Wednesday, “Hurricane Sandy: The next climate wake-up call?”.

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28 Responses to As ‘Frankenstorm’ Barrels Towards East Coast, Newspaper Coverage Ignores Connection To Climate Change

  1. James says:

    If there is a silver lining to this particular storm, it may well be that, regardless of its being ignored by the media, it is perceived by the public as a further wake up call on the heels of the awful heat wave and drought of the summer. The change in the public’s perception of AGW is happening, and as we know too well—AGW will continue to provide cause for that change, regardless of the media’s coverage or lack thereof.

  2. Robert Marston says:

    Yep. They basically are terrible. Who do they believe? A bunch of climate quacks or the scientists? Sad day for the human race.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Our media is clearly corrupt, and for the score to be 93-0 in favor of failing to mention climate change shows just how lockstep they have become.

    This has to change.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      You could always ignore them, plenty are – many old media are in their death throes, ME

  4. berry burks says:

    the good news? human caused climate change is practically inargueable. the bad news? the depths of american ignorance is practically unfathomable.

  5. Kenneth Robinson says:

    Include Andy Revkin’s “Dot Earth” blog in the indictment. He goes on and on, and never mentions global warming.

  6. Zimzone says:

    Our media is making billions on political ads this year.
    They’re far ‘too busy’ to report actual facts.

    • I think the real problem is that the people who pay for those ads haves agendas which don’t allow for talk of climate change and certainly not talk of the lifestyle changes required for mitigation. It has come to the point where, with a little discretion, better news information can be had on the internet than on the bought-and-paid-for cable news channels.

  7. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) released a report Thursday, saying, “If climate change continues unchecked, Hurricane Sandy won’t be our October surprise, it could be the new normal for New England…
    Victory is ours!!!…only 517 Reps, 100 Senators, 1 President, 3,402 periodicals to go!

  8. prokaryotes says:

    It is absolutely irresponsible to not mention climate change when covering unprecedented event.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Don’t forget immoral and wicked as well. These actions are deliberate misrepresentation and the suppression of the truth, and these are primarily moral failings.

  9. TruckerMark says:

    Here is a record of a much more powerful late-season storm that hit the same general area of the US in mid-October of 1954, Hurricane Hazel, which was a strong Category III storm:

    http://www4.ncsu.edu/~nwsfo/storage/cases/19541015/

    • Joan Savage says:

      The NCSU link you provided focused on the hurricane’s landfall in North Carolina as a Cat III and mentioned the trough that drew Hazel inland.

      The NCSU link doesn’t mention what happened later to the north when an Arctic cold front combined with Hazel and stalled the weather pattern over Toronto, causing much flooding.

      As a small child in upstate New York, I experienced another aspect of Hazel, a chilly multi-day power outage while utility crews struggled to catch up with the fallen trees and branches.

      Meteorologists are undoubtedly going to be comparing Hazel to Sandy for several factors, and the one that is most likely to have a strong climate change component could be the high volume of moisture carried inland. Scientists didn’t have satellite information about cloud cover back with Hazel, so the comparison might take some slow interpolation from other data.

    • Joel Bolden says:

      I remember that storm. I lived just south of Buffalo, NY on Lake Erie and the damage was awful. We had moved to the basement because of the winds and I remember looking out the window and seeing trees snapping one by one. The damage to small boats and the lake freighters driven up on shore or sunk was horrible.

  10. Matthew Tanner says:

    The connection is a probabilistic one. I hate to see TP going ill-advise on science matters. The climate change story should be a standalone and cite the significance of increased frequency and intensity of storms.

    • Merrelyn Emery says:

      Standalone from what? The weather, the cost of everything or your chances of catching a newly mutated bacterium or virus? ME

    • climatehawk1 says:

      And what would make the connection NOT a probabilistic one?

      • Merrelyn Emery says:

        Knowledge, and the associated mathematics, of how systems work – change one leading part in a system and you have certain change, ME

  11. Organelle says:

    President Obama was on MTV discussing climate change. Said he considers it one of the critical issues of our time and was surprised it wasn’t brought up as a question in the debates.
    The hurricane will emphasize the different policies of Obama and Romney, in particular the cuts Romney would make to FEMA and the clean energy policies of Obama as more people realize these storms aren’t once in a lifetime anomalies.

  12. William P. Gloege says:

    Global warming is labeled a “hoax” by conservatives. If one thing scares main stream media to death it is being labeled “liberal” because people like Limbaugh have defined that as a very bad word.

    So, we wonder why mainstream media resists seeing any storm as evidence of global warming? One huge success of conservatives has been this redefinition of the word liberal causing media to shy away from anything that could be considered liberal – like science supporting global warming.

  13. Citizen J says:

    I was called “ghoulish” for merely mentioning the possibility of a connection between Hurricane Sandy and global weirding/climate change.

  14. Gary Kujat says:

    With global warming being a real threat why isn’t more efforts towards planting trees?

  15. The MSM in this country is owned by a handful of companies that are heavily invested in the status quo —including fossil fuel reserves as assets. Even if the MSM did try to report on climate change, it would do so incompetently. American journalists are clueless and wedded to false balance.

    Expect nothing from them.