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