Monday, March 16, 2015

Climate Change and the Media in 2015

This year, the Northeastern United States received record setting levels of snow. The cold fronts seemed to never end, and snowfall rose to well above 100 inches in parts of Connecticut. The media broadcasted reports of the endless snowstorm in New England to all parts of the United States, and across Europe and Asia. It seems that the entire world was watching the record breaking winter storm that New England faced.

Many people have used this storm as "evidence" against climate change. In my own personal life, the "so much for global warming" case has come up several times in the past few months (I am writing this in March 2015), and I have seen this argument used frequently on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. If you have studied climate change, and the effects of greenhouse gasses on our atmosphere, you would know that despite the frequently used title of global warming, climate change means that the weather conditions in our world will rapidly increase in frequency and severity.

When we look back on the United States during the winter of 2014-2015, we will most likely remember the record setting winter storms and snowfall that took its toll on the Northeast. However, the media may not have mentioned something that happened on the other side of the country. Regions on the west coast experienced record-setting warmth. One side of our country experienced freezing lows, the other, extreme highs. 

Climate change watch site analyzed 417 extreme weather news reports broadcasted from January 25th to March 6th 2015. They measured the prevalence of the following subjects: Northeast/Midwest Winter Storms, Western heat/drought, and Stories that Mentioned Climate Change. Their findings were as follows. NE/MW Winter Storms: 182 (ABC) 77 (CBS) and 158 (NBC). Western Heat/Drought: 3 (ABC) 2 (CBS) and 7 (NBC). Climate Change: 5 (ABC) 2 (CBS) and 1 (NBC). For reference, just over 1% of climate broadcasts mentioned climate change.

I believe that it is unfair that the media chooses to ignore the drastic effects of climate change that our nation is currently experiencing, and instead chooses to report on the "crazy snow!!!". It seems that news stations that reach the entire United States and provide updates to the rest of the world are more interested in creating Facebook post material than informing the public on the current effects of climate change. As a citizen, I feel very concerned about this. I would like to know the truth about what is happening to our world, not just take a closed-minded look at the immediate effects, and ignore the underlaying problems.

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