#ClimateSilence Trends, Pushing TV News to Talk Climate Change When Covering Disasters

For Immediate Release

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Thanu Yakupitiyage, U.S Communications Manager, 350.org; 413-687-5160; thanu@350.org

#ClimateSilence Trends, Pushing TV News to Talk Climate Change When Covering Disasters

BROOKLYN, NY - At midday on Wednesday, a new hashtag was trending across the United States: #ClimateSilence.

The hashtag, which received over 20 million impressions in three hours, was the result of an effort by dozens of climate and environmental groups to push the mainstream media, and TV news networks in particular, to do a better job educating the public about the connections between climate change and disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“It’s time for the media to break the climate silence,” said May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director. “With a few exceptions, the major TV networks completely failed to cover the scientifically proven ways that climate change is intensifying extreme weather events like hurricanes Harvey and Irma. That’s not just disappointing, it’s dangerous. We won’t be able to turn this crisis around if our media is asleep at the wheel.”

“The #ClimateSilence effort came together in under 24 hours, with all sorts of groups and individuals chipping in,” continued Boeve. “The huge traffic on the hashtag shows just how hungry the public is for the press to do their job and talk about climate change, the role of the fossil fuel industry, and the promise of clean energy. This is the most important story in the world and it needs to be told.”

According to Media Matters, ABC and NBC news did not air a single segment during their Harvey coverage on the connections between climate change and hurricanes. CBS and PBS Newshour each aired three segments on Harvey that discussed the link, while CNN and MSNBC each aired five segments. When it came to Irma coverage, some of the networks have shown a little improvement — ABC and NBC news have each aired at least one segment mentioning the climate/hurricane link — but they still should be doing much better. (Fox News mentioned climate change a few times during Harvey and Irma, but in most cases in dismissive or mocking ways.)

Most of the Sunday morning political shows have dropped the ball too, Media Matters found. On Sept. 10, while Irma was raging, all but one ignored climate change completely. (CNN’s Jake Tapper was the only Sunday morning show host to bring up the issue.)

Over at the Weather Channel, an organization that has covered climate change in the past, the situation wasn’t any better. According to reporting by the New York Times, there was zero mention of climate change during the channel’s hurricane coverage because the company’s chief executive thinks the term has been “politicized.”

Over the coming weeks, 350.org will be keeping up the pressure on TV networks and the mainstream media to break the #ClimateSilence.

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350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.

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