Global Temperatures Are On The Rise, But Media Coverage Is Not

Last year was the hottest year on record, and the impacts of climate change seem more obvious than ever. Therefore, it only makes sense that the news devotes more time to covering this critical subject.

Au contraire!

Despite the already tangible consequences of climate change, broadcast news programs gave five percent less airtime to climate change in 2015 than in 2014. A Media Matters study breaks down each network’s coverage, and the results are not encouraging.

Though NBC increased its total climate coverage slightly, CBS countered that improvement by spending about 20 percent less time on global warming. Still, the real network responsible for bringing the average down is ABC, which scaled back its climate change stories by 60 percent. Somehow ABC national news saw fit to discuss climate change for only 13 minutes in all of 2015.

It’s also important to note that the overall decline occurred despite the fact that Fox essentially doubled its climate change coverage. Don’t get too excited about Fox, though.

As the Guardian notes, “most of the network’s climate segments featured interviews with guests who criticized efforts to address global warming.” In other words, though the coverage wasn’t necessarily focused on denying climate change, much of the time was devoted to disparaging the president’s plans and taking big business’ side when examining environmental legislation.

That’s not to say that climate change denial has disappeared from the news coverage altogether. The number of broadcast news segments that featured perspectives from a climate change denier actually increased slightly in 2015. The only network to not feature a global warming denial segment was ABC. But that’s hardly a badge of honor considering that ABC aired only two climate segments the entire year.

It’s certainly easier to deny climate change when science is left out of the reporting. The number of scientists interviewed or quoted on a Sunday news program dropped to just two, down from seven the previous year. Without input from scientists, networks treat climate change as more of a debatable issue than something scientists have long ago reached a consensus on.

Beyond the record temperatures and extreme weather conditions, there was no shortage of climate news to report on in 2015:

With so many potential stories to discuss, there’s really no excuse for the news to decrease its climate change coverage.

The science may be largely settled when it comes to climate change, but that doesn’t make the subject any less newsworthy. A hotter planet is the top threat to humanity at the moment, but you wouldn’t know it from turning on the evening news. Our own collective lack of action dooms us, which is why it is the media’s responsibility to remind us of the need to make serious changes.

Take action!

Ask ABC and other news outlets to step up and increase their coverage of climate change by signing this petition.

Photo Credit: Andrew/Flickr

247 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Charles Brexel Sr.
Charles Brexel Sr.about a year ago

* Great article. Thanks.
* It is also great that you linked to a petition. Thanks for creating the petition.
* It is just very sad about the lack of appropriate media coverage on global warming.
* It is especially sad about Fox's coverage on global warming - it sure seems as if they are advocating for more and faster global warming.

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Neville B.
Neville Babout a year ago

Dear Mark Donner, no problem (it was parody, not sarcasm), although I'm a bit worried about the number of people who apparently believe in the Great Pumpkin...

I would have accepted an apology, but thank you for the green star anyway : )

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Mark Donner
Mark Donnerabout a year ago

Okay, reading Neville's post again, it was in fact sarcasm... I took it that he was serious. There are nutjobs who say those things and believe them.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donnerabout a year ago

Dan Blossfeld dropped out of the same high school that Neville B. went to and he's desperate to get the attention of the oil bosses he worships. by spreading his insane propaganda that CO2 doesn't exist. He just can't get promoted past the position of janitor in the tar sands tire company. Sorry Blossfeld moron, they don't know you exist.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donnerabout a year ago

Hey Neville B. moron: Are you mad that you never understood physics and chemistry in high school? Just get into your little psycho head that CFC's break down ozone in the upper atmosphere. Just like gas runs your car.. you know reality. And when CFC's were banned the ozone holes corrected themselves. The same type of thing happens with excess CO2 in the upper atmosphere, CO2 is a greenhouse gas.. that's the best layman's explanation I can make to someone of your low IQ. If you don't understand that than shoot yourself. Nobody wants to hear all that "lefty/liberal" drooling from you any more, it gets boring.

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Dave C.
David Cabout a year ago

thanks, agreed, petition already signed

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Dave C.
David Cabout a year ago

hard to expect people to look to the future when all they care about is now

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Margaret M. F.
Marge Fabout a year ago

Petition signed & shared. Thank you for posting.

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Valentina R.
Valentina Rabout a year ago

Humans are such idiots. "Maybe if we ignore climate change, it will go away!"...

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