It’s not true that if you slowly turn up the heat, a frog won’t notice that his surroundings are getting hotter – the frog will jump out of the pot if he can. That’s an allegory – but whether humans will recognize & respond to their warming climate is a very real & open question.
Mainstream media coverage of Friday night’s extreme storms in the Mid-Atlantic region shows no sign of hoppiness:
- The Washington Post has no mention of climate impacts in its main story on the storm. Even its sidebar story detailing the record-shattering temperatures that fueled the derecho waits until its final sentence to say the rare storm “raises the question about the possible role of man-made climate warming” – but says any judgement must be left to
after the frog has already boiledfuture case studies. Next to the storm coverage is an in-depth look at tar sands, one of the most carbon pollution-intensive fuels on the planet, but true to modern American journalism’s View From Nowhere, the Post makes no connection between the two stories, not even on the editorial page.
- The New York Times and CNN.com make no mention of climate change in their stories on the storms. Last night, CBS Radio News blamed the storms on “Mother Nature,” skipping past ignorance to outright denial.
- Meanwhile out West, the Associated Press reports nationwide droughts are canceling fireworks displays for many states. Climate scientists have been warning for years that global warming will result in deeper droughts and more intense wildfires, yet the AP makes no mention of climate impacts.
Reading these stories, I can’t help but think of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. Past dominant societies have proved quite capable of blissfully ignoring all evidence of impending doom. So far, America’s media is proving no different. Will 2012’s record temperatures and extreme weather change that? Or be just another milepost on the road to disaster?