As extreme weather becomes increasingly common, it has received a fair share of coverage during network news broadcasts. What are often missing from the reports, however, are mentions of climate change and its connection to extreme weather events. The nightly news covers extreme weather events as unusual and newsworthy, but usually without explanation of climate change as an underlying cause.
Extreme weather events in 2013 resulted in 450 news segments of which only sixteen mentioned climate change. As for specific evening news shows, CBS Evening News only used terms like “global warming” and “greenhouse gases” in two of 114 extreme weather reports. ABC World News only mentioned climate change in eight reports out of 200, and NBC Nightly News only mentioned it in six reports out of 136. There was also a CBS report on the unsupported notion that there had been a “pause” in global warming.
There continues to be serious scientific debate on the extent to which current weather events and climate change should be linked. Nonetheless, a majority of American public still makes the connection between climate and weather despite the media’s failure to report on it.
Peter Hart, “Weather—Without Climate.” Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting Extra!, December 2, 2013, http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/weather-without-climate/.
Student Researcher: Noah Tenney, Kayla Silva and Cydney Shorkend (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)