The New York Times Asks “Where Did Global Warming Go?” While Ignoring Its Own Failed Coverage

The New York Times is one of many major news outlets blowing the story of the century (see “Silence of the Lambs: Media herd’s coverage of climate change “fell off the map” in 2010“).

The one-time “paper of record” cut coverage sharply since its peak in 2006 and 2007 and failed to connect the dots — heck, a headline this week even blamed the recent record-setting Thailand floods on Thai “officials” not “an unusually heavy monsoon season”!

Yet the paper never mentions the collapsing media coverage in the Elisabeth Rosenthal article that takes up nearly the entire front page of the Sunday Review asking (subhed in print edition):

“Where Did Global Warming Go?”

Even as other countries take action, the issue is fading from the American agenda

The piece reminded me of the classic Onion article, “Report:  Global warming issue from 2 or 3 years ago may still be problem. Look at the above chart of coverage and then consider this line from the story:

Across the nation, too, belief in man-made global warming, and passion about doing something to arrest climate change, is not what it was five years or so ago, when Al Gore’s movie had buzz and Elizabeth Kolbert’s book about climate change, “Field Notes From a Catastrophe,” was a best seller.

So media coverage collapses and public concern for the issue drops a bit.  Go figure!

But the ace investigative reporting team at the Times doesn’t seem to believe the sharp drop in media coverage merits even a single sentence in a piece on why the issue of climate change has faded somewhat.

Dr. Robert J. Brulle of Drexel University, whom the NYT itself quoted in 2009 as “an expert on environmental communications,” emailed me:

A major factor not mentioned in this article is the collapse of any significant coverage climate change in the media.  We know that 2010 was a record low year,  and 2011 will probably look much the same.  If the media doesn’t draw attention to the issue,  public opinion will decline. The media effects literature clearly shows that the public takes cues on concern over issues from the levels of coverage in the press.  So perhaps an interview with the editors of the NY Times and why coverage of climate change is declining and is having its predictable effect on public opinion on this issue.

There are a number of flaws and ironies in the story.  Rosenthal writes:

This fading of global warming from the political agenda is a mostly American phenomenon. True, public enthusiasm for legislation to tackle climate change has flagged somewhat throughout the developed world since the recession of 2008.

Well, this is a classic conflation of different ideas — the political agenda and public enthusiasm.  In the United States, warming has faded from the political agenda, which is set by the elites, but public enthusiasm for action on climate change has remained strong as multiple polls over the past 2 years have made clear (see Bombshell: Democrats Taking “Green” Positions on Climate Change “Won Much More Often” Than Those Remaining Silent and links therein).

Then we have this classic line:

Buffeted by two years of treacherous weather that they are less able to handle than richer nations — from floods in India to water shortages in China — developing countries are feeling vulnerable. Scientists agree that extreme weather events will be more severe and frequent on a warming planet, and insurance companies have already documented an increase.

The collapse in quantity of coverage isn’t the only failing of the media.  So is  its failure to connect the dots, which sadly is quite commonplace in the New York Times itself — see NY Times Asks Why “Horrible” U.S. Drought “Has Come on Extra Hot and Extra Early.” Their Answer is … La Niña, Of Course! Andrew Freedman of WashPost’s Capital Weather Gang, writes me “The fact that the article basically said ‘man, it’s hot too!’ and failed to at least examine the link between that, the dry ground, and climate change was rather egregious.” The NYT similarly blew the Arizona wildfire story and the Dust Bowl story.

Just this week, the Times ran an amazing headline: “As Thailand Floods Spread, Experts Blame Officials, Not Rains.”  The vast majority of people who are exposed to this article  online will probably see the headline and nothing else.  The story acknowledges that there was “an unusually heavy monsoon season,” but  has nothing whatsoever to say on the subject beyond that.

Today’s article notes:

The United States is the “one significant outlier” on responding to climate change, according to a recent global research report produced by HSBC, the London-based bank. John Ashton, Britain’s special representative for climate change, said in an interview that “in the U.K., in Europe, in most places I travel to” — but not in the United States — “the starting point for conversation is that this is real, there are clear and present dangers, so let’s get a move on and respond.” After watching the Republican candidates express skepticism about global warming in early September, former President Bill Clinton put it more bluntly, “I mean, it makes us — we look like a joke, right?”

Americans — who produce twice the emissions per capita that Europeans do — are in many ways wired to be holdouts. We prefer bigger cars and bigger homes. We value personal freedom, are suspicious of scientists, and tend to distrust the kind of sweeping government intervention required to confront rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Climate change presents numerous ideological challenges to our culture and our beliefs,” Professor Hoffman of the Erb Institute says. “People say, ‘Wait a second, this is really going to affect how we live!’ ”

So we’re an outlier, but its our “culture and our beliefs” — not our lousy media coverage or the most well-financed disinformation campaign in history.  Indeed, that latter point also gets no mention whatsoever.  The article merely notes:

There are, of course, other factors that hardened resistance: America’s powerful fossil-fuel industry, whose profits are bound to be affected by any greater control of carbon emissions….

Not a single word is devoted to how the  industry is spending its profits.

The rest of the world, however, understands what’s going on, even if the NY Times doesn’t — see German State Minister: We Can Decarbonize With Renewables Because “We Don’t Have the … Koch Brothers.”

The article does note that the GOP has been taken over by climate science deniers in this country, but not most of the rest of the world:

Conservatives, rather than posing an obstacle, are directing aggressive climate policies in much of the world.

But again, there is no real explanation offered for this.

The article does, appropriately, throw some blame at Obama for failing to raise the profile of this issue.  But as much as I think Obama deserves a great deal of the blame, the media clearly deserves more (see “The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2“).

For completeness’ sake, the media’s failings extended beyond collapsing coverage and failure to connect the dots.  It  also includes false balance, which continues even today — see Boykoff on “Exaggerating Denialism: Media Representations of Outlier Views on Climate Change”— and even at the NY Times:

It also includes lack of prominence.

On New Year’s Eve, The Politico publishedthe largest lead headlines of The New York Times, 2010.”  It ain’t pretty.  I won’t repost them here, but just summarize:

There is not a single climate story on the list and only one on energy.

Brulle wrote me at the time:

Apparently, the editorial board of the NY Times has yet to fully grasp the importance of global climate change to our collective survival.  As the science becomes stronger and more dire, the editors of the NY Times bury their head deeper into the sand.

So while the NY Times coverage has gotten a little bit better in the second half of this year, it is appearing more and more likely that this report was true:  Science Times stunner: “a majority of the section’s editorial staff doubts that human-induced global warming represents a serious threat to humanity.”

Where did global warming go?  Where indeed?

34 Responses to The New York Times Asks “Where Did Global Warming Go?” While Ignoring Its Own Failed Coverage

  1. Jeff Huggins says:

    “… which New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called ‘the indispensable blog'”

    First, to be clear, I think this post on Joe’s part is great, and the New York Times’ coverage of climate change has of course been dismal.

    But rather than focusing on all that, I’d like to raise a related point, which is this: What can be, and should be, done about it?

    For example, in the “About Joe Romm” section, for a long time now there’s been this quote: “Climate Progress, which New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called ‘the indispensable blog'”. Indeed, both Tom Friedman and (as far as I can recall) Paul Krugman seem to understand the gravity of climate change AND seem to greatly admire Climate Progress.

    So then, why is it that the Times’ coverage of climate change remains so dismal and yet Climate Progress, and we, can’t EXPLICITLY INSIST that Friedman and Krugman get off their butts (sorry), march up to the top floor, and DO SOMETHING to change that fact?

    Again — sorry for the redundancy — Tom Friedman, Paul Krugman, and Andy Revkin all work for, or worked for, The New York Times, and yet coverage has been dismal. Am I allowed to ask Friedman and Krugman to DO SOMETHING about that? Am I allowed to critique them if they don’t? Am I out of bounds if I suggest to Joe and ClimateProgress that ClimateProgress might ask aloud, in print, in a blog post, how it is that Friedman and Krugman are so concerned with climate change (rightly so) and yet can’t PROMPT the Times to actually do anything about it? Maybe the best thing that Krugman and Friedman could do at this point, in the interest of humankind, would be to threaten to resign from the Times, and to make a stink about it, if The Times doesn’t get its rear in gear and cover climate change responsibly and with verve. Indeed, I think that’s probably the case.

    In my view (and I’ve written this in an earlier comment today), we seem to always stop “two steps short” of writing the things, and doing the things, that might actually have a chance of making a difference. The Times’ coverage has been dismal for some time. Friedman has been a fan of ClimateProgress for some time. If there’s anything we all know, it’s that the stakes of climate change are HUGE. So why doesn’t ClimateProgress put due pressure directly on Friedman, and on Krugman, to DO SOMETHING to prompt The Times to improve its coverage??

    Everybody wants to talk, and to be seen as being concerned about climate change, but nobody seems to want to CHANGE. Very few people will do anything other than the comfy-cozy things that they get paid to do and gain applause for doing. Will Krugman and Friedman stretch themselves, put something at stake, and insist to their “bosses” that The Times IMPROVE? Will ClimateProgress CALL ON Friedman and Krugman to do that, or at least raise the question explicitly and publicly? And if not, why should I bother to attend demonstrations, potentially get arrested, and comment here? These are serious questions. I hope I’m not offending anybody, or at least not without good reason.

    So then, how do we actually GET the Times to improve? How do we go beyond complaining about them — and actually PROMPT THEM to IMPROVE? Same question for the Obama Administration.

    Our tactics are failing, and we seem unwilling (for the most part) to discuss why.

    That’s my two cents worth for today.

    Be Well,


  2. Peter Mizla says:

    Where is the President on the issue of global warming? Afraid to confront the insidious conservative forces of denial that control the the media & the message now?

    James Hansen said a few days ago the skeptics have won in their denial campaign.

    The NYT has given uneven coverage for sure- but they are worried about their ad revenues, instead of giving fair coverage to the greatest story humankind has ever faced.

    Perhaps Obama and the NYT need to take a cue from the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

  3. It’s as if they wondered where all the STDs came from after they’d turned the press room into a brothel.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    Rosenthal still has a job, and Margot Roosevelt, a brave climate reporter formerly of the Los Angeles Times, does not. Reporters have taken note, and already knew what the score is these days. The New York Times is truly pathetic, and they have shit upon their long and storied history.

    Muckraking is over in this country if big enough companies stand to get hurt, and cowardice rules. The market failure of massive burning of fossil fuels has become entwined with media failure. People become informed only by attending a good university or stumbling on factual sources such as this blog.

    This is a moral and spiritual failure as much as anything, since the evidence for dangerous AGW is rather overwhelming. People from all professions are going to have to step up and act, to include boycotts, relentless alternative media campaigns, and principled stands from religious organizations. The hour is getting late.

    We need ideas, too. Since the media are now so worthless, how about leaflet drops in coal plant towns, or maybe over a place like Tulsa, Oklahoma? They heard little about the Tar Sands campaign there. The result could surprise people.

  5. Peter Mizla says:

    does the NYT report on the monthly C02 levels from the NOAA at Mauna Loa Observatory on the Keeling curve?

    Another huge faux pas by the once great Times.

    C02 September 2011 389.00
    Septmeber 2010 386.80

    a rise of 2.20ppm- over the previous year- the time of the year Trees/plants soak up the most carbon dioxide.

    Will reach 397-398ppm by next spring?

  6. Leif says:

    It does appear to me that the “Gray Lady” has been turning tricks.

  7. Mark Olsthoorn says:

    Shape of graph remarkably similar to natural gas price over past decade.

  8. Michael Glass says:

    Here is a larger more readable version of the graph of U.S. newspaper coverage.

    I completely agree with your point: it is passingly odd for the reporter to not notice her own newspaper.

    But I’m not completely persuaded by the graph. It seems to show that for the past couple of years the major newspapers each publish on average two or three articles per week (100 – 150 every two months for the 5 newspapers).
    It does not a priori seem very small, but it is undoubtedly a marked decline.

    Also, the same Media Coverage of Climate Change/Global Warming site has world-wide media coverage graphs that seem to show a decline (though not as large) in much of the rest of the world. (You have to mentally block out the spike in late 2009, which visually exaggerates the dropoff.) So if belief in global warming has decreased in the US but not in the rest of the world, I don’t think the decline in sheer quantity of news coverage explains it.

  9. Some European says:

    You rock!
    I’ve always liked what you write.
    I’m with you. If you want, we can just start a petition to ask Friedman and Krugman to talk to their bosses. That might draw their attention. Then, they could respond.

    Joe, listen to Jeff. You know he has good ideas!

  10. prokaryotes says:

    Fall of Roman Empire linked to wild shifts in climate

    Centuries of unpredictable climate may have been partly to blame for the fall of the western Roman Empire. A detailed record of 2500 years of European climate has uncovered several links between changing climate and the rise and fall of civilisations.

    Climate fluctuation was a contributing factor alongside political failures and barbarian invasions, says Ulf Büntgen of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research in Birmensdorf, Switzerland, who led the project.

    Büntgen used tree rings to build up a history of European climate. Using nearly 9000 samples from oak, pine and larch, Büntgen and colleagues were able to reconstruct how temperatures and rainfall in western Europe changed over the last 2500 years.

    Climate flips and Black Death

    From AD 250 to 550, the climate flipped, from one decade to the next, between dry and cool, and warm and wet. “Such decadal changes seem to have the most impact” on civilisations, Büntgen says, because they harm agriculture but are not prolonged enough for people to adapt their behaviour.

    The climatic turmoil coincided with political upheaval and waves of human migrations. By AD 500, the western Roman Empire had fallen.

    In other notable periods, the relatively stable medieval society was characterised by more constant climatic conditions. But the Black Death coincided with a wet spell and the disease spreads faster in humid conditions

    Imagine a wise man during the last days of the roman empire, which came to have connections to the highest circles. He constantly warned about the looming dangers of deforestation and environmental destruction and HOW to PREPARE. He might have thought, if i just could spread this to all romans we might have a chance to prevent the worst.

    Now 1500 years later similar things happen, even with us communicating through the internet.

  11. Mike Roddy says:

    I like that idea too, Jeff- otherwise, NYT is just hosting another “debate” on the subject.

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Peter, please, forgive me, but don’t you understand what Obama is yet? Obama, like every one of your political leaders, is a servant of the real rulers in all capitalist states, the money power. They don’t give a stuff what happens in 2050, because they will be dead. Obama might pretend to ‘listen’ with the election coming up, but it will be another con, bank on it!

  13. GreenHearted says:

    Re: “Americans — who produce twice the emissions per capita that Europeans do — are in many ways wired to be holdouts. We prefer bigger cars and bigger homes. We value personal freedom, are suspicious of scientists….”

    How about if all Americans who are suspicious of scientists have to turn over (hmmm, to a giant rummage sale for food aid in East Africa, perhaps?) everything they own that scientists had anything to do with. So, just about everything in their lives!

    Do ya think they’d get it then? You guys just can’t imagine how frustrating it is to be watching from outside your country. Or maybe you can. I dunno. It’s just so flipping agonizing. (But then, I’m dealing with climate change denialism in my little local newspaper here in Canada, too. Because the controversy sells papers, apparently.)

    BTW, it’s pretty obvious to anyone who reads faces that Obama has been told his daughters will pay for any “missteps” he makes. Not that I’m defending his inaction on climate change. I’m just sayin’.

  14. Ernest says:

    I am grateful for Elisabeth Rosenthal’s article. (It may sound sad, but I’m grateful to the NYT for even this much.)

    Where did global warming go? It went into the sinkhole of American politics and culture. My sibling family members look at me strange whenever I mention the subject. FOX news ranks at the top in viewership. WSJ beats out NYT in circulation. Neither politicians (Obama) or the NYT (newspapers) are immune from from the cultural/political climate as they try to cater to it for votes, money, and subscriptions. I think they both sensed that if the “led” too far from the mainstream, they would be pigeon-holed as the “the left”, become irrelevant, or be accused of not focusing on the issues that the American people are concerned about. At best, they may be ignored, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the IPCC, Jon Huntsman, … Belief system, one’s position on a number of ideological litmus test issues, matters more than scientific truth. If you don’t like the science, question the science (climage change, evolution, …) Whenever I bring up the issue of climate change, the undertone is not about the science, but rather “do you *believe* in climate change or not”. Even arguing the evidence seems like another “talking point” in a political debate.

    Besides culture and ideology, there is the issue of “short attention span” in the news cycle, given that climate change is a long term and persistent issue. Then there is the difficulty of attribution of immediate events to climate change since climate science is essentially as science about aggregate effects and long term trends. (Your nightly news meteriologist does not want to go out on a limb.) Add to this, more pressing and immediate crises, such as the unemployment crises, debt crisis, and climate change over decades seems to be something that one can “worry about later”, even if there’s a basic concern about the problem.

  15. squidboy6 says:

    I think it’s unfair to include the NYT with LA Times, USA Toady, and the WSJ. Sure they’re not as committed as they could be, like most Americans, but these other papers are much worse, and NYT has to compete with these papers.

    The LA Times was once very great paper but WSJ never had anything but bias.

    The NYT is more of a platform for many sides, not one like these other papers, I think it would be helpful to compare these papers to the NYT and say when you cover things as good as the NYT, then we’ll read your rag. This is what advertisers pay attention to, not this blog.

    I’m interested in engaging people and I think the NYT is much better than these. Try reading the New Orleans Times-Picayune if you want to see what we could end up with. Serious research and opinions won’t even make it on their site.

    Several complaints in this blog regarding the failure of OWS coverage were either outdated when they were posted or just plain wrong. I’m not confident that the LA Times can be changed but it once was a great source of news and exposed corporate criminals. Money is still power so make the monied interests pay attention.

    Besides OWS boycotts need to be proposed and coordinated. Boycotting the Koch Bros business would be a great start right now.

  16. Ernest says:

    Agreed about OWS needs to be more targeted. It’s one thing to be general and vague about “Wall Street greed”. It’s another to focus on specific businesses, where it really hurts, and serves notices to other businesses that there are real effects to their positions and behavior.

  17. lizardo says:

    Re Occupy Wall Street since it has been mentioned by several commenters. Matt Taibbi has an excellent article on 5 demands OWS should make. (see

    I’d like to see global warming be added to that.

    Just as an aside but re deniers that you meet, and you can only persuade people when talking face to face, after listening to them….

    Renewable energy makes total sense even absent the gigantic threat of global warming, because we are using up all these irreplaceable resources so fast. Elaborate on that all you want, but our lifestyle now has been purchased by the slow and arduous efforts of our ancestors, and we are just burning through the future.

    Plus once again, I can’t recommend enough the meteor metaphor, we’d organize to deflect or survive even a minimal chance of a significant strike. Even if a person thinks that the science of global is not settled, why take the chance? But a meteor won’t have lobbyists, think tanks, columnists and Congressmen on it’s payroll.

    I went to an AFP funded tea party express last-minute event here in town last year and a lady responded to my “global warming is the real threat” sign by saying “I believe God will take care of us.” But I bet she doesn’t expect God to take care of all the other threats in life, that she wears her seat belt, flosses her teeth, and so on.

    If you don’t know that there are reasonable solutions out there, then the threat is so unbearable to think about that
    I guess it’s easier to be selective…

    NYT doesn’t have that excuse.

  18. Elisabeth Rosenthal seems to specialize in articles saying that no one cares about environmental issues.

    She wrote a similar article about the Prospect Park West Bike Lane in New York, saying that she backs more bike lanes, but when she went to that neighborhood, she found that everyone was against the bike lane – this at a time when there had been neighborhood demonstrations for the bike lane and when polls showed that 70% of the people in the neighborhood backed it.

    Now she is saying the same approach to global warming – saying that no one cares about it, at a time when she could just as well be writing about a growing movement to control global warming that has led to civil disobedience in Washington and demonstrations around the US and the world.

  19. she did a really fine piece last week detailing the corruption behind the keystone environmental impact statement.

    also, check out a-1 of monday’s washpost for a pretty darned good story

  20. nyc-tornado10 says:

    The second largest shareholder in the new york times is the richest man in the world, carlos slim (of mexico). Notice his major business interests are natural resources. When slim bought his stake in the newspaper, the nyt was in deep financial trouble, it is likely he has a strong influance on what does not get published, the threat of global warming is it!

    Again, it is the billionaires that are getting in the way of saving the world.

  21. Steve Bloom says:

    Placement is critical. Front page stories, not so much.

  22. Paul Magnus says:

    Climate Portals
    very entertaining… man bites dog GW story … in Forbes!!!

    Forbes Says Brace for Impact: Believe it Now?
    Podcast: Play in new window | Download Forbes Magazine is a capitalist tool. That is not an insult, that is its self-proclaimed motto.Read more….
    Like · · Share · a few seconds ago
    Climate Portals Forbes (and is where you would expect to find pollution propaganda and climate-change denial. It is the last place you would look to find a hair-on-fire, climate-change authority explaining in great detail why we should, in effect, brace for impact. But guess what: the man has bitten the dog.

  23. Paul Magnus says:

    Good headline…
    Forbes Says Brace for Impact: Believe it Now?

  24. Edith Wiethorn says:

    Here’s a good, contemporary climate reporting video with the right sources that could be made available in a Climate Progress video channel:
    Reuters 3:27min

  25. The New York Times have been climate ostriches for at least a couple years now. They fall in the big category of not concerned enough to do anything meaningful about it or even bother to delve into very deeply.

    The reason, in my view, is the ads in their paper are for products that have extremely high climate-pollution footprints. Off the charts damage. It is a shopping mall of hyper climate destabilization.

    In addition, many of the writers and the core readership live Big Carbon lifestyles and haven’t yet had an adult conversation with themselves about their culpability or what they should do about it.

  26. Polymerase says:

    Jeff nails it:

    Our tactics are failing, and we seem unwilling (for the most part) to discuss why.

  27. Polymerase says:

    The NYT article suggests that Americans are “wired to be holdouts” in facing the facts on climate change because, among other things, we are “suspicious of scientists”.

    This strikes me as odd, since nearly every poll I’ve seen places scientists near the top of trusted professionals, including this one in 2009 from the from Pew Research Center:

    Public Has High Regard for Science and Scientists

    Contribute “a lot” to society’s well-being…
    Members of Military 84%
    Teachers 77%
    Scientists 70%
    Medical Doctors 69%
    Engineers 64%
    Clergy 40%
    Journalists 38%
    Artists 31%
    Lawyers 23%
    Business executives 21%

  28. Joan Savage says:

    In the NYT’s 2011 transition from Bill Keller to Jill Abramson as the NY Times’ executive editor, we have gotten some solid investigative reports on methane releases from gas wells and the bombshell on the compromised Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline. Keeping up with their research important. I can think of no other major paper in the US that is paying for in-depth investigation on energy issues with as wide a readership.
    I’m ever grateful for CPs collation and interpretation of many news items and your interviews with sources, but I don’t expect you to pull off those NYT-sized pieces.
    Let’s not stomp too hard on Rosenthal’s broaching the topic of media coverage of climate change. It’s a promising sign.

  29. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Rosenthal-ah, the power of nepotism.

  30. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    She’s more the Madam, and the ‘journalists’ those of ‘easy virtue’.

  31. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It’s a standard Rightwing journalistic tactic. In common parlance it’s known as ‘bulldust’, but the stenographers to power call it something else.

  32. Timeslayer says:

    Great idea Jeff. I really hope it leads to some sort of action. The NY Times’s coverage of climate change is beyond dismal – it’s actually destructive, as it mainly propagates misinformation and reinforces the public’s misconceptions.


  33. Timeslayer says:


    The reason people focus on and criticize the NY Times for its horrendous, flagrantly irresponsible coverage (or non-coverage) of climate change is that the NY Times is the single most influential player in the mainstream media. The fact that the NY Times may actually be the best newspaper in the country does not change the fact that it is utterly terrible. It routinely fails to do its job because the people who run it apparently have no clue that the actual purpose of a newspaper is to tell people the truth, loudly and clearly.


  34. Celia Schorr says:

    Along this line… The following is an excerpt of a letter I sent to the NYT editorial board in January 2008. It was too long and was never printed. (Note: I was still in denial about the death of newspapers, and did not address the web.)

    Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2008

    To the Editor:

    I was pleased to read yesterday’s editorial (“The One Environmental Issue”, 1/1/08), …calling for “a comprehensive response equal to the challenge.” As stated in the editorial, we’re still a long way from such a
    response, and you correctly pinned some of the blame on the media’s failure to keep the issue front and center.

    Unfortunately, I would include the New York Times in the list of media outlets that have mishandled coverage of global warming. For the past few years, I’ve watched as critical stories on climate disruption…have been relegated to page A-21. Important developments on alternative energy sources are buried in the business section, and stories on implications for developing nations are sent to the science section.

    The Times’ handling of global warming has been piecemeal and inadequate…Global warming can no more be considered a simple “environmental issue” than the Iraq war can be considered simply a “military issue”. The
    climate crisis – and our response to it – will impact every aspect of our lives: our economy, our food supply, our jobs, our commutes, and our methods for producing and consuming energy (to name just a few)…

    As the nation’s newspaper of record, the Times has a special responsibility in this conversation. Adequate coverage of the complex issues that comprise “The One Environmental Issue” would entail dedicating the staff and space necessary to anticipate tricky policy debates and lay out the choices ahead of time. The Times would need to assign staff to the varied aspects of this
    issue and tie those stories together – ideally within a special “Climate Crisis” area of the front news section.

    Now that we’re past debating whether global warming is indeed happening, and whether it’s caused by human behavior, the Times should take a serious look at its coverage of this most timely and critical human problem.

    – Excerpt, letter to NYT editorial board, January, 2008.

    – Celia