It is stunningly clear that the climate crisis is the most important and urgent issue of our time. Unfortunately, the media coverage is not always equal to the scale and urgency of the challenge. A report recently found that media coverage of climate change actually declined 20% last year compared to 2010, and 42% from the level of coverage in 2009. These numbers are interesting, but I think there is much more to this story than just the numbers.
Climate change is happening now. This means it is both necessary and the responsibility of all of us to speak out about the reality of this crisis, its impacts and what we can and must do to solve it. And while there was a drop in the total climate coverage in major news outlets, the media increasingly began making the right connections between extreme weather and climate change. Last year alone, there were at least 12 extreme weather disasters in the United States that cost more than a billion dollars each. And there is significant evidence, that manmade climate change has increased the risk of extreme weather all over the world.
While there was too little coverage overall, there were some outstanding news reports last year about the impacts of this crisis in a variety of outlets – print, online, TV and others. A great example is this report from NBC News. And there is significant media coverage happening outside of Europe and North America.
In fact, a recent poll from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that 63% of Americans believe there is solid evidence that global warming is happening – up from 57% in 2009 and 59% in 2010. Even though the pendulum is swinging back toward greater recognition of this critical problem, educating the public about the climate crisis is critical and we all need to do more.
All of us can help share the truth about climate change even when the traditional news media is not saying enough. Send emails to friends and others you know and post on Facebook when you hear important news about the climate crisis. You can share videos that tell people the real facts (like our own Climate 101). Write to your local newspapers and reach out to your local radio stations about the impacts of climate change in your community and around the world.
I’m excited that in the coming year, The Climate Reality Project will be working in partnership with you as we draw the world’s attention to the reality of the climate crisis. All of us have a role to play in making climate change into a worldwide conversation that is a crucial part of building the movement for change.