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146 Minutes of Climate Change Coverage in 2015 - How We Can Change This

By Sharon Chen
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2015 was a banner year for climate year: the Paris climate talks were widely deemed a success, the United States committed to cutting carbon pollution, and it was (up until now, experts believe) the hottest year on record. In 2015, however, climate change coverage in television news totaled 146 minutes. How can we encourage climate conversations and awareness and action?

As mentioned in the article below, it is important to remember that we need to put faces to climate change: personal, local stories that are relatable can resonate much more than providing scientific data and facts. For instance, focusing on farmers struck by droughts or wildfires that are threatening communities puts a personal spin on a huge issue. By effectively framing the climate change issue, we can continue to inspire climate action to ensure a healthy and flourishing future. 

The Power of the (TV) Producer: Make Climate Change Matter to People

Angela Anderson | Union of Concerned Scientists | March 10, 2016

Is it fair to compare the broadcast media’s coverage of Donald Trump to its coverage of climate change? In this election year, coverage of this businessman/reality show host/presidential candidate is valued in the millions. In the summer months after he announced his candidacy (June-Sept), before a primary was even held, coverage of Mr. Trump’s campaign on the news totaled about 10 hours, 20 minutes. By contrast, climate change coverage for ALL of 2015 was 146 minutes.

It is no wonder that climate change never shows up in the top 10 lists of issues of most concern to voters.  To care about it, they have to hear about it, see it, touch it and feel it.  TV has the power to help us do that.

Media Matters latest report showed that the hottest year on record (2015) that ended with the first ever truly global climate agreement was marked by less broadcast media coverage than the previous year and failed to document health and economic consequences of rising global temperatures. Hawaii Congressman Schatz had and I had a similar reaction to this news.  He issued a statement saying,

In a year when nearly 200 countries around the world collectively recognized the threat of climate change and the United States made historic commitments to cut carbon pollution, major networks actually cut their media coverage of climate change. In 2015, the network Sunday shows devoted just 73 minutes to climate change, a ten percent decrease from the year before. What makes these findings even more troubling is the fact that with the little time devoted to climate change, these Sunday shows continued to mislead their audiences by including climate denial as part of the discussion. The facts are clear. Scientists, governments, and major corporations around the world have accepted the facts about climate change and are having real debates on solutions. In this consequential election year, it’s time for news broadcasters to do the same."

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