Category Archives: Climate Change

Trump, Not Record-Breaking Disasters, Dominated TV News Coverage of Climate Change in 2017

Repost from DesmogBlog

Trump, Not Record-Breaking Disasters, Dominated TV News Coverage of Climate Change in 2017

 By Farron Cousins • Monday, February 12, 2018 – 16:51
NOAA map showing 2017's 16 billion dollar climate and weather disasters
This map depicts the general location of the sixteen weather and climate disasters assessed to cause at least one billion dollars in direct damages during 2017. [CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE] Credit: Climate.gov, public domain
Extreme weather events in the United States seemed ever-present in the media during 2017, with historic wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and droughts receiving national coverage. What was less common, however, was major TV news networks making the connection between these kinds of billion-dollar disasters and climate change for their viewers. That’s despite scientific support confirming these links, and some experts even warning that such extreme events may be “the new normal.”

The conclusion about major network coverage of climate change comes from a new report by Media Matters for America.

This report found that the major news networks — ABCNBC, Fox, CBS, and PBS — spent a combined 260 minutes covering climate change in 2017 on their evening news and Sunday morning talk shows. The report does not include coverage from cable news outlets. While CBS and PBS spent more time on the issue than the rest of the networks, they were also the only ones to feature guests who outright denied the overwhelming scientific consensus around human-caused climate change.

For example, an October 10 edition of PBS NewsHour hosted notorious coal executive Bob Murray of Murray Coal, who made the claim that “I listen to 4,000 scientists … who tell me that mankind is not affecting climate change.” Murray’s interviewer did not question or correct his erroneous claims, and presented Murray’s position as one of two “sides” along with former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Climate Change and Trump

Up from a dismal 50 minutes of total coverage in 2016, last year’s TV news attention on climate change actually rarely discussed extreme weather events — or greenhouse gas emissions, advances in climate science, or much besides the Trump administration’s actions and statements. In fact, the networks only devoted a combined 12 total segments to discussing the link between extreme weather and climate change, and two of those segments were discussing the links between climate change and hurricanes.

The networks, combined, also had four segments on public health issues related to climate change, three on economics and climate change, and just two which discussed the national security issues associated with climate change. There is some overlap in the numbers, as some issues were discussed in the same segments.

Instead, the lion’s share of the climate-related coverage — 205 of the 260 total minutes — was spent talking about Donald Trump and his administration’s actions on climate change and environmental policies.

Of all the network broadcasts, PBS devoted more segments than any other network to the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, with CBS coming in a very close second. PBS spent far more airtime discussing the administration’s rollback of environmental protections than the other four networks combined. Notably, none of the networks devoted a single segment last year to covering the climate implications of the Dakota Access or Keystone XLpipelines, which climate activists have fought vigorously and on which Trump issued decisions last year.

The report also mentions that nearly one-third of the broadcasts that mentioned Trump’s infamous 2012 tweet calling climate change a Chinese “hoax” did not bother to refute the president’s claims.

Billion Dollar Disasters

According to estimates, 2017’s extreme weather and climate disasters in the United States cost the country more than $300 billion. Since 1980, there have been 219 weather and climate catastrophes that have carried a price tag of over $1 billion a piece, according to the government’s own calculations. Between the more than a thousand deaths from natural disasters in the United States last year (mostly due to Hurricane Maria) and the astronomical price tag, it is obvious that major network coverage could have gone far deeper in reporting the context and connections to climate change.

Mainstream media’s overall failure to mention climate change in the context of extreme weather events helps prevent the public from linking the two.

Climate change has far more impacts than just rising temperatures, and until broadcasters begin explaining its links to human impacts, environmental damage, and extreme weather, too many people will be left with only half of the story.

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France names winners of anti-Trump climate change grants

Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle

US-based climate scientists to take research to France

By SYLVIE CORBET, ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 11, 2017 Updated: December 12, 2017 8:43am 
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, attends the "Tech for Planet" event at the "Station F" start up campus ahead of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, Monday Dec. 11, 2017. It is a dream come true for U.S.-based climate scientists — the offer of all-expenses-paid life in France to advance their research in Europe instead of in the United States under climate skeptic President Donald Trump, two of the winners say. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP) Photo: Philippe Wojazer, AP / Pool Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron, center, attends the “Tech for Planet” event at the “Station F” start up campus ahead of the One Planet Summit in Paris, France, Monday Dec. 11, 2017. It is a dream come true for U.S.-based climate scientists — the offer of all-expenses-paid life in France to advance their research in Europe instead of in the United States under climate skeptic President Donald Trump, two of the winners say. (Philippe Wojazer, Pool via AP) Photo: Philippe Wojazer, AP / Pool Reuters

PARIS (AP) — It is a dream come true for U.S.-based climate scientists — the offer of all-expenses-paid life in France to advance their research in Europe instead of in the United States under climate skeptic President Donald Trump, two of the winners say.

American scientist Camille Parmesan and British scientist Benjamin Sanderson are among the 18 initial winners, including 13 based in the U.S., of French President Emmanuel Macron’s “Make Our Planet Great Again” climate grants.

Macron congratulated the winners during a brief ceremony in Paris on Monday evening, ahead of a climate summit that gathers more than 50 world leaders in the French capital Tuesday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Parmesan expressed elation at the prospect of spending the next five years doing her research in France instead of the United States.

A scientist from the University of Texas at Austin, she is a leader in the field on how climate affects wildlife. She lived for a few years in Britain for family reasons and was considering returning to the U.S. until Trump’s election.

“He very, very rapidly has been actively trying to erode science in the U.S.A. and in particular climate science,” she said. “And it’s hard for two reasons: Funding is becoming almost impossible, and in a psychological sense.”

Parmesan answered with enthusiasm Macron’s appeal for climate researchers to come work in France, minutes after Trump’s rejection of the Paris climate accord. “It gave me such a psychological boost, it was so good to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying I value what you do,” she said.

Parmesan, who said she is looking forward to improving her French, will be working at an experimental ecology station in the Pyrenees mountains.

Sanderson, who also worked in the U.S., told the AP that he found it “very reassuring” that France is “openly encouraging climate research.”

He said his application was motivated by “the fact that France is making a stand on prioritizing climate change research, but also it’s increasingly hard to get research funding in the U.S.”

Sanderson used to work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, on risks and uncertainties under climate change. For the next few years, he will be living in Toulouse, in southern France, where the country’s national meteorological service is based.

France’s ministry of Research said the selection of the laureates focused on “scientific excellence and relevance to the call”.

“It’s very troubling,” that researchers feel they need to leave the United States to get needed support for their work, said Chris McEntee, chief executive officer of the American Geophysical Union, an organization of more than 60,000 Earth and space scientists. “Ever since the election there has been fear and anxiety among the scientific community.

“It’s not good for the U.S. but it’s not good for the world either,” McEntee said.

___

Science writer Seth Borenstein contributed from New Orleans.
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GAO: Climate change already costing U.S. billions in losses

Repost from the Los Angeles Daily News
[Editor: This came to us in an E-Alert from Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, who wrote, “The red lights are flashing – hottest summers and fall, greatest hurricane force, worst fires in history of California, lives lost, air pollution killing millions, and all of this is costing us billions… …rising sea level will affect structures near the Benicia waterfront at 6 feet above current sea level.  Our water (sewer) will be affected by rising sea level before 2050.  Our water supply may be uncertain.  We can mitigate and adapt….”  – RS]

US Government Accountability Office: Climate change already costing U.S. billions in losses

By Michael Biesecker, Associated Press, October 23, 2017 8:13 pm
california wildfires
Sarah Boryszewski is helped by her father Gerald Peete as they dig for belongings in the remains of Boryszewski’s home in Coffey Park, Friday Oct. 20, 2017 in Santa Rosa, Calif. Northern California residents who fled a wildfire in the dead of night with only minutes to spare returned to their neighborhoods Friday for the first time in nearly two weeks to see if anything was standing. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

WASHINGTON — A non-partisan federal watchdog says climate change is already costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars each year, with those costs expected to rise as devastating storms, floods, wildfires and droughts become more frequent in the coming decades.

A Government Accountability Office report released Monday said the federal government has spent more than $350 billion over the last decade on disaster assistance programs and losses from flood and crop insurance. That tally does not include the massive toll from this year’s three major hurricanes and wildfires, expected to be among the most costly in the nation’s history.

The report predicts these costs will only grow in the future, potentially reaching a budget busting $35 billion a year by 2050. The report says the federal government doesn’t effectively plan for these recurring costs, classifying the financial exposure from climate-related costs as “high risk.”

“The federal government has not undertaken strategic government-wide planning to manage climate risks by using information on the potential economic effects of climate change to identify significant risks and craft appropriate federal responses,” the study said. “By using such information, the federal government could take the initial step in establishing government-wide priorities to manage such risks.”

GAO undertook the study following a request from Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“This nonpartisan GAO report Senator Cantwell and I requested contains astonishing numbers about the consequences of climate change for our economy and for the federal budget in particular,” said Collins. “In Maine, our economy is inextricably linked to the environment. We are experiencing a real change in the sea life, which has serious implications for the livelihoods of many people across our state, including those who work in our iconic lobster industry.”

The report’s authors reviewed 30 government and academic studies examining the national and regional impacts of climate change. They also interviewed 28 experts familiar with the strengths and limitations of the studies, which rely on future projections of climate impacts to estimate likely costs.

The report says the fiscal impacts of climate change are likely to vary widely by region. The Southeast is at increased risk because of coastal property that could be swamped by storm surge and sea level rise. The Midwest and Great Plains are susceptible to decreased crop yields, the report said. The west is expected to see increased drought, wildfires and deadly heatwaves.

Advance copies were provided to the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency, which provided no official comments for inclusion in the GAO report.

Requests for comment from The Associated Press also received no response on Monday.

President Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax, announcing his intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accords and revoke Obama-era initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Trump has also appointed officials such as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, all of whom question the scientific consensus that carbon released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is the primary driver of global warming.

Earlier this month Trump nominated Kathleen Hartnett White of Texas to serve as his top environmental adviser at the White House. She has credited the fossil fuel industry with “vastly improved living conditions across the world” and likened the work of mainstream climate scientists to “the dogmatic claims of ideologues and clerics.”

White, who works at a conservative think tank that has received funding from fossil-fuel companies, holds academic degrees in East Asian studies and comparative literature.

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