Hurricanes Michael, Florence, Harvey, Sandy, Katrina. Once in 500-year superstorms that are hitting land once every 3 years including twice this year. Deadly wildfires that have devastated parts of California. Torrential rains that have caused massive flooding in parts of Asia. A punishing heat wave that killed dozens in Japan, South Korea and parts of Europe. Melting glaciers in both the north and south poles.
Are these events related to climate change? While there’s growing evidence that they are, some climate deniers continue to ignore it all and point to what scientists have been saying for years – that no one weather event can definitely be blamed on climate change. However, it’s getting tougher to say this with so many crazy weather events occurring.
Last week the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading scientific panel on climate change, released a report that supported the link between these and similar weather events and climate change. One of the co-chairs of the research group that released this report put it this way, “One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.”
The report goes on to talk about the need to make “…unprecedented changes…” and for “rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities.” It provides “policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change…” Debra Roberts, co-chair of the IPCC working group, called the next few years “probably the most important in our history.”
The media did cover the release of this powerful report, as it covered the impact of the superstorm hurricanes Michael and Florence and other incredible weather events that have struck the world in recent years. But for how long? These events are quickly pushed off the front pages and soon forgotten except for a brief follow-up as the media moves on to the next big story, whether it’s the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, the killing of a Washington Post reporter in Turkey or the latest crazy tweet by our president. Of course these other news stories need to be covered, but the impact of climate change is becoming the most important news story of our time.
Instead, there’s so much going on every day, at times at every moment it seems, that it’s hard to sustain interest in the intense weather events that just won’t stop. As the planet goes through drastic changes, Trump continues to tweet about nonsense. Something has to change. If we believe the scientists like the IPCC work group who continue to provide evidence that man-made carbon emissions are causing an increase in world-wide warming, then the media needs to help the public understand the importance of this situation. The media needs to tell the story of climate change in a way that will help bring about the changes we need to survive. Who else has the reach? How else do we get to unprecedented changes?
By Stephen Lester. Nearly 10 months ago, a Norfolk Southern train with more than 150 cars, many of which contained toxic chemicals, derailed in East