In an interview with Columbia Journalism Review, New York Times reporter Justin Gillis criticizes the media, including his own paper, for failing to connect the dots on how the hundreds of billions of tons of greenhouse pollution humanity has spewed into the atmosphere is making weather more extreme and “crazy”:
One thing I’m seeing — and I see it in our own paper as well as many other news outlets — is that people are covering the crazy weather we’re having and, more often than not, dodging the subject of whether there’s any relationship to climate change. TV weathermen are dodging that subject. Print reporters are dodging the subject. And it’s not so easy to cover because science does not have particularly good answers for us. The concept that I wrote about last week — that we’re in the middle of a sort of weather “weirding” — isn’t really a scientific concept for which you can build a weird index and figure out where we are on that index, but there are some things that scientists can say about weather extremes. Some of the extremes are very consistent with what is expected and what has long been predicted, and we’re seeing very clear trends in certain extremes like heat waves and heavy precipitation events. Reporters are not going to be able to be definitive, in real time, about whether this particular event was or wasn’t connected to climate change, but it’s a bit of a scandal that there’s not enough connecting the dots for people.
As climate scientist Kevin Trenberth said in 2011, “It is irresponsible not to mention climate change in stories that presume to say something about why all these storms and tornadoes are happening.”