Despite 'Year of Extremes' Corporate Media Continues to Ignore Climate Crisis

Scorching heat and rampant wildfires in Australia have made global warming an undeniable reality for those down under. (Photo: The Australian)

Despite 'Year of Extremes' Corporate Media Continues to Ignore Climate Crisis

Record-breaking heat, wildfires, drought, Sandy: Not enough to get them talking

If 2012 was the year that climate change made its undeniable mark on the world, a new report confirms that corporate news outlets in the US completely refused the opportunity to cover it.

In the past year, the US experienced record-breaking heat, a historic drought, rampant wildfires and two debilitating hurricanes. Moreover, Arctic sea melt persisted at an 'unprecedented rate' and reams of new scientific studies proved that the crisis was even worse than previously thought. Yet the disastrous consequences of human caused global warming continued to be a grossly under reported story, following a downward trend since 2009.

As a new study released by Media Matters shows, the dominant corporate media in 2012 largely ignored opportunities for quality reporting on the global warming crisis. When such outlets did cover the topic the study found they often relied not on widely-available expert opinion and scientific testimony, but instead on falsified, politically-driven talking points and layers of unnecessary equivocation.

Media Matters' analysis can be seen in full here, but some highlights follow:

Sunday Show Coverage Continued To Decline. Since 2009, climate coverage on the Sunday shows has declined every year. In 2012, the Sunday shows spent less than 8 minutes on climate change, down from 9 minutes in 2011, 21 minutes in 2010, and over an hour in 2009. The vast majority of coverage -- 89 percent -- was driven by politics, and none was driven by scientific findings.

Nightly News Coverage Increased Slightly From 2011, Driven By Extreme Weather. The nightly news shows devoted just under an hour to climate change in 2012, up from 38 minutes in 2011 but significantly less than in 2009. Coverage was largely driven -- 69 percent -- by the extreme weather the U.S. experienced this year.

Sunday Shows Quoted No Democratic Politicians On Climate Change. In 2012, the Sunday shows did not quote a single Democratic politician on climate change. Most of the politicians quoted were Republican presidential candidates, including Rick Santorum, who went unchallenged when he called global warming "junk science" on ABC's This Week.

In Four Years, Sunday Shows Have Not Quoted A Single Scientist On Climate Change. Of those who were asked about climate change on the Sunday shows, 54 percent were media figures, 31 percent were politicians and not one was a scientist or climate expert.

Sunday Shows Obscured Scientific Consensus On Climate Change. Not only did the Sunday shows shut out those who accept the science of climate change, but they also failed to inform their audiences that the vast majority of climate scientists agree that climate change is occurring and is driven by human activity. Only 11 percent of coverage implied that scientists agree on global warming, while 44 percent failed to correct a guest who questioned the science. By contrast, 60 percent of nightly news coverage alluded to the scientific consensus.

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