'Tis a sad tale I've had the displeasure of telling many a time: Media coverage of climate change, once robust and enthused, has dwindled to a sad whimper, especially here in the United States.
There are many reasons for this: science reportage is suffering from industry-wide cutbacks, media outlets are intimidated by what is wrongly perceived by much of the nation to be primarily a political issue, and there is thought to be a finite number of ways to tell a now quite familiar, and quite depressing, story.
But none of those are valid excuses. Climate change, frankly, is the story of our time. It is in the process of changing just about everything about the world as we know it. The angles available for covering such a wide-reaching phenomenon are nearly limitless, and reporters have only scratched the surface in covering the immediate and potential impacts on people, animals, ecosystems, governments, companies, economies, etc.
And yet, we get this:
That graph is from a great report on media coverage of climate change in 2011 from Climate Daily. Here's the gist: "Media coverage of climate change continued to tumble in 2011, declining roughly 20 percent from 2010's levels and nearly 42 percent from 2009's peak, according to analysis of DailyClimate.org's archive of global media."
That's right. Despite a year with some of the craziest, record-breakingist weather events the world has ever seen–many of which climate scientists have linked to warming–there were comparatively few stories about climate change. And, it should be noted, it's been pretty much downhill from 2007, since the spike in 2009 was due largely to the ClimateGate nonsense. Most of all, TV news outlets need to shape up and start telling this story more responsibly–here's a good example of how it's done.
After all, if our media can't be bothered to cover the most momentous phenomenon of our time, how will anyone be bothered to do anything about it?