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Report: Media Complacent in Not Linking Extreme Weather, Climate Change

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021   

AUSTIN, Texas -- New research suggests the nation's most trusted news sources are dropping the ball when it comes to helping voters in Texas and across the nation connect the dots between more frequent and extreme weather events and a warming planet.

Scientists have repeatedly warned climate change is exacerbating drought, wildfires and flooding, and making storms such as Hurricane Ida stronger.

Allison Fisher, climate and energy program director for the watchdog group Media Matters, said Americans aren't getting the full story.

"The hesitancy to connect extreme weather events to climate change by these networks is very closely related to campaigns by the fossil-fuel industry," Fisher asserted.

Over a 96-hour period of wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Ida, just 4% of nearly 800 news segments aired by corporate broadcast and cable news outlets mentioned climate change.

In Fisher's view, not connecting climate change to extreme weather events amounts to "media malpractice."

Fisher argued it is important for climate change to become a bigger part of the national conversation, along with what's causing it: the burning of oil, gas and coal.

She noted using the words "climate change" is the first step.

"And then from there, it's where you need to start having the conversation of, 'Well, who's responsible, and what is responsible, and what is or is not being done?'" Fisher outlined.

She added news coverage on Hurricane Ida improved in terms of 'connecting the dots' as the storm moved into high population centers along the East Coast, producing surprising levels of damage.


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