Memo To White House Correspondents: If You Want To Be Green, Report On Climate Change


photo via Brendan Smialowski

The New York Times new green blog is reporting that this year's White House Correspondents Dinner, scheduled for May 1, will be the greenest ever. Attendees are being encouraged to carpool or drive hybrid vehicles, and air travelers will compensate by purchasing voluntary offsets. I'd never be one to discourage efforts to reduce footprints, so I say bravo for greening up the event. But if the assembled journalists, who represent the largest media outlets in the country with the loudest megaphones, really want to be green, they would start by reporting on climate change not in political terms but in moral terms. Edwin Chen, president of the group and a White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, said:

"This will be the most eco-friendly dinner ever hosted by the association...And we encourage our members and guests to join in that effort, such as by car-pooling, using hybrid vehicles and, for long-distance travelers to Washington, buying carbon offsets."

Mr. Chen may want to encourage his members to read and report the volumes of scientific data that shows that the planet is warming in such dangerous ways that the next generation might not inhabit the same sort of earth that we do. The White House itself put out a report last year, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, that shows, among other things, that heat waves are coming with more frequency and intensity, parts of the country are drying out, and that storms are becoming more violent.

Yet most times when climate change is covered, it's covered only in political terms. Take this weekend's ridiculous flap over the Senate's climate bill, in which Sen. Lindsey Graham threatened to remove his support for legislation because the Senate will take up immigration reform next, not climate and energy. Reports were largely about Graham's political moves and Sen. Harry Reid's supposed pandering to Hispanic voters. Not covered were the implications of the Senate's failure to act in regard to a global deal on limiting emissions and the certain environmental dangers that come with the refusal to finally price the externalities of fossil fuels into their cost of use.

Want more proof the media is dropping the ball on climate change? Check out the League of Conservation Voters study from a few years back that found that the five major Sunday morning political shows asked the presidential candidates over 2,000 questions in 2007, but only three of the questions were on global warming.

More on the climate and media
Hey David and George, You Might Want To Ask the President About Climate Change and Energy
With One Week Before Copenhagen, 'This Week' Covers White House Crashers, Almost Skips Climate Change