Jul 24, 2018
Climate scientists sounded alarms on Tuesday as reports circulated of extreme weather and record-breaking high temperatures all over the globe, with dozens of deaths and thousands of hospitalizations reported in some countries--while one journalist with a major platform on corporate cable news admitted the news media's failure to give serious attention to the link between the climate crisis and such events.
On social media, climate action groups and advocates catalogued the overwhelming number of fires, droughts, floods, and heatwaves that have been exacerbated by the climate crisis in recent days and weeks.
\u201cDam collapse in Laos due to rain. Wildfires in Greece due to arson & exacerbated by heat. Killer heat wave in Japan. More fires in Sweden. \n\nNowhere will be unaffected. We must work to engineer adaptations & provide solutions. #climatechange is our greatest nat sec threat.\u201d— Jess Phoenix, Volcano & Human Rights Lover\ud83c\udf0b (@Jess Phoenix, Volcano & Human Rights Lover\ud83c\udf0b) 1532435394
\u201cIn Greece, today, people are jumping into the ocean to escape rapidly advancing wildfires.\n\nSo far, this is Greece's hottest year on record.\n\nClimate change makes wildfires worse.\nClimate change makes wildfires worse.\nClimate change makes wildfires worse.\nhttps://t.co/1uV3NyAf66\u201d— Eric Holthaus (@Eric Holthaus) 1532438036
\u201cGood God. Dozens dead in Greek wildfire, some of them killed trying to flee in rickety boats, amid unceasing drought and heat\nhttps://t.co/XSf6We1sJC\u201d— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben) 1532432530
Also on Twitter, MSNBC's Chris Hayes re-tweeted meteorologist Eric Holthaus's post about Greece's wildfires, prompting journalist Elon Green to reply, "Sure would be nice if our news networks--the only outlets that can force change in this country--would cover it with commensurate urgency. Acting as if there's nothing to be done is not excusable."
Hayes offered an honest response, writing, "Every single time we've covered it's been a palpable ratings killer. So the incentives are not great."
The reply prompted several followers to urge Hayes and other journalists in the corporate media to cover the climate crisis, its implications for the increasingly extreme weather that major news networks often report on, and how politicians like President Donald Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and many others exacerbate the issue by aligning themselves with the interests of fossil fuel industries.
\u201c@chrislhayes @elongreen you don\u2019t have to do massive stories about climate change; you just need to connect the dots to climate change in stories you\u2019re already doing\u201d— Chris Hayes (@Chris Hayes) 1532441141
Greek Interior Minister Panos Skourletis called the wildfires that have killed at least 74 people "a biblical disaster" in an interview with Sky News. The fires began late Monday afternoon near Athens, and have injured nearly 200 and sent thousands of people racing toward the Aegean Sea to escape in boats, makeshift rafts, and even by swimming.
Entire towns have been wiped out by the blazes, which have been made worse by a recent drought and heatwaves that have sent temperatures into the hundreds.
"There is no doubt that the prolonged extreme temperatures and floods we are witnessing around the world right now are a result of climate change." --Caroline Rance, Friends of the Earth Scotland
In Japan, at least 65 people have been killed in the past week by an "unprecedented" heatwave, according a weather agency spokesperson. Temperatures as high as 106 degrees have sent more than 22,000 people to hospitals--more than any other year since the country began recording cases of heatstroke in 2008.
In southern Laos, hundreds of people went missing on Monday after flooding caused by heavy rains resulted in a collapsed dam. Thousands of homes were destroyed and an untold number of people were killed as the equivalent of two million Olympic swimming pools of water burst into several villages.
And in northern Sweden, above the Arctic Circle, more than 50 wildfires have raged in the past several days, forcing dozens of people to evacuate their homes.
The climate action group Friends of the Earth noted that record-breaking high temperatures have been recorded in a number of other regions and cities in recent days, including the United Kingdom; Ottawa, Canada; Southern California; Ouargla, Algeria; Tibilisi, Georgia; and Sydney, Australia.
"There is no doubt that the prolonged extreme temperatures and floods we are witnessing around the world right now are a result of climate change," said Caroline Rance, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland. "Temperature records are being broken across the U.K. and globally, exactly as climate science has long warned, and with devastating consequences."
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