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Wake Up!: Campaign Aims to End Evening News' Prime Time 'Climate Silence'

Major outlets refuse to 'connect the dots' between extreme weather and climate change

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Major TV stations including ABC, NBC and CBS need to "connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather" and provide far more climate change coverage during their evening newscasts, a coalition of environmental and media groups urged with the release of a new petition campaign Tuesday.

Sept 8th, 2012 extreme storm over Manhattan which resulted in two tornadoes on the edge of NYC. (Lisa Bettan via Flickr / Creative Commons License) Corporate media has been ignoring climate change stories when the country needs them the most, Media Matters said Tuesday, who launched the petition along with the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation voters.

According to a recent Media Matters study, ABC, CBS and NBC carried a combined total of 12 climate change segments in the entirety of 2012, a year of countless climate change related extreme weather events across the nation and the world.

"When the [shows] did discuss climate change, scientists were shut out of the debate while Republican politicians were given a platform to question the science," the report states.

The study states:

In 2012, the U.S. experienced record-breaking heat, a historic drought, massive wildfires in the West, and Hurricane Sandy... Meanwhile Arctic sea ice extent shattered the previous record low and the Greenland ice sheet saw the greatest melt in recorded history. According to the National Climatic Data Center, 2012 was the warmest year in recorded history for the contiguous U.S.

Yet despite these illustrations of climate change, the broadcast news outlets devoted very little time to climate change in 2012, following a downward trend since 2009.

“The new year shouldn’t bring the same old coverage. It’s time the nation’s top evening newscasts give climate change the coverage it deserves," said Vanessa Kritzer, LCV Online Campaigns Manager. "If we want to see action to address this issue, the media needs to connect the dots between climate change and the extreme weather we’re seeing right outside our windows.”

"National broadcasters have the power to influence decision makers and shape public discourse -- with that power comes the responsibility to report on the issues that matter most to Americans," said Maggie Kao, Sierra Club National Press Secretary. "NBC, CBS and ABC must meet the scale of the climate disruption issue with their news coverage, and with millions of American families losing their homes and livelihoods to extreme weather, we urge them to give climate disruption and climate solutions the accurate, thorough and frequent coverage that Americans deserve."

Read about the campaign and sign the petition here.

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