The news media is largely ignoring the link between the climate crisis and the extreme heat that is currently enveloping cities and regions all over the world.
Public Citizen, the consumer advocacy group, issued a report (pdf), "Extreme Silence," which found that from January 1 to July 8, only about seven percent of cable news reports on record high temperatures mentioned the climate crisis.
Meanwhile, less than a fifth of such reports in the top 50 most-read American newspapers addressed climate change.
Out of 760 climate and weather-related articles in major publications since the beginning of the year, just 134 also addressed the climate crisis.
Ten of the 50 newspapers with the highest circulation—including the Tampa Bay Timesand the Detroit Free Press—have yet to mention climate change at all this year.
As for television networks, out of 226 climate-related segments produced by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN,Fox News, and MSNBC, the climate crisis came up in just 16 of them.
"Climate change is already harming Americans, and soon it will pose an existential threat," David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen's climate program, said in a statement. "But most Americans still think of the problem as distant, hurting people long in the future or in faraway places. The media's failure to cover climate has a big role in that complacency. We need much better reporting if the public is going to wake up and demand action in time to prevent catastrophe." He observed "Overall, these findings suggest that the extreme heat event that scorched much of the U.S. over nearly two weeks in late June and early July 2018 failed to prompt conversations about climate change in national or local media," said Arkush. "The media is failing at the job of covering one of the most important issues of our time."
Only 45 percent of Americans think the climate crisis would have an impact on them or their communities in their lifetime. More Americans may understand the urgency of the situation if major newspapers and news programs discussed the leading cause of extreme weather while reporting on heatwaves, hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires, argued Public Citizen.