Just 7.5 Percent of Hurricane Florence Stories in the Top 50 Papers and 4.3 Percent of Major Broadcast Segments Mentioned Climate Change

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Firstly, major U.S. media outlets are failing to connect Hurricane Florence to climate change. As well, that’s what the Public Citizen analysis (PDF) shows. In eight days of coverage, climate change mentioning in just 7.5 percent of pieces. horribly, on Hurricane Florence in the top 50 U.S. newspapers by circulation, and 4.3 percent of major broadcast segments. ABC and 19 of the papers failed to mention climate change at all about Florence.

These findings are in line with earlier scientific studies but are all the more striking because, in the case of Florence, researchers linked the storm’s size, intensity and projected rainfall to climate change before Florence even hit. A day before Florence reached the coast, the Climate Extremes Modeling Group at Stony Brook University released a study. The study found that because of human interference in the climate system, rainfall from Florence would be increased by more than 50 percent. That’s going to be in the heaviest-precipitating parts of the storm. Furthermore, the storm would stay at higher intensity for longer. Also, and most noteworthy, the storm would be about 80 kilometers larger in diameter at landfall.

But in the four-day period after the release of the study, just 7.3 percent of Florence stories in the country’s top 50 newspapers mentioned climate change. This was slightly down from 8 percent in the earlier four days.

The New York Times was the leader in connecting the storm to climate change, producing 15 pieces in the eight-day period.

From Sept. 9 to Sept. 16, only 4.3 percent of major broadcast segments on the storm mentioned climate change, Public Citizen found. CNN was the best performing network with 10 segments connecting Florence and climate. ABC failed to mention climate change at all in its Hurricane Florence coverage.

Even David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program had comments about Hurricane Florence. So even forecasters and the media used the most demonstrative terms to describe the storm.

However and most noteworthy said most failed to name one of the underlying causes. Ironically, the only one over which humans have some control; climate change.

However, when outlets fail to connect these events to global warming, audiences are left uninformed. Uniformed about some of the most critical decisions we face. We need a serious national discussion about the urgent, existential threat from climate change. More importantly and how we are going to fix it. Yet, to have that conversation when like I am the only one talking about this topic.

In conclusion, NONE of the top 50 newspapers is in North Carolina. Also which is still grappling with unfolding storm-related crises. Finally, the state still is dealing with inland flooding, power outages and potential mudslides. The unprecedented storm has claimed 32 lives.

“This is what climate chaos looks like,” Arkush said. “The media must talking much more about the role of climate change in causing this chaos, as well as the fact that we have excellent, popular solutions to the problem.”

View this on our press page., Sept. 18, 2018

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