Network climate change coverage dropped 80% from 2009-2011

Funny, I guess something must have happened to fix the planet so that we might “stay the course” while I wasn’t looking! Suddenly, despite the big “ClimateGate” manufactroversy which should theoretically have driven all sorts of crazy TV coverage, the networks have all but gone silent on the topic.

Since 2009, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a climate bill and a major climate conference took place in Copenhagen, the amount of climate coverage on both the Sunday shows (Fox News Sunday, NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’ Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week) and the nightly news (NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, and ABC World News) has declined tremendously. This drop comes despite a series of newsworthy stories related to climate change in 2010 and 2011, including a debate over comprehensive climate and energy legislation in the U.S. Senate, a series of record-breaking extreme weather events, notable developments in climate science, the rise of so-called “climate skeptics” in the House of Representatives, and a deal struck at the most recent UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa.

Apparently Donald Trump got way more coverage. And yet, despite his best efforts, he’s very unlikely to cause economic and humanitarian calamity in the near future.

Worse yet, on those shows, 50% of the guests are politicians (two to one for the Republicans, naturally), 45% media personalities, and 5% “other” which I assume might include actual climate scientists. So almost everyone discussing anthropogenic global warming on the news, during what little coverage the topic gets, actually knows what the hell they’re talking about.

What I’ve learned from MediaMatters’ analysis, hosted on ThinkProgress, is that people no longer care about climate change, even though it’s definitely still happening, and it’s definitely humankind’s fault. Apparently the smokescreen machine put up by the fossil fuel industry and the Party of No Responsibility For Our Actions has succeeded in obfuscating the truth of the climate crisis. I can only hope the pendulum will swing again and people will realize that the longer we wait to take action, the more painful the switch off fossils will be.