New York Times, ProPublica and Newsweek journalists have been calling for Harvey, which made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, and Irma, currently predicted to reach Florida by Sept. 9, to be blamed on or linked to manmade climate change.
Journalists urged cable news networks to “start talking about climate change” during Harvey coverage, blamed that storm’s destruction on climate change instead of poor civil engineering and ignored the fact that before Harvey, there had been 12 years without a major hurricane hitting the U.S. .
“Are we still not allowed to talk about climate change?” International Business Times Senior Editor for Investigations David Sirota asked after tweeting statistics about Category Five Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6.
Are we still not allowed to talk about climate change? https://t.co/Y7ZkAWcctq
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) September 5, 2017
Quartz deputy growth editor and Columbia Journalism graduate Elisabeth Ponsot specifically called on “cable news channels” to up their climate change coverage in the wake of Harvey.
Dear cable news channels covering “every aspect” of Hurricane Harvey:
Can you please start talking about climate change?
— Beth Ponsot (@bponsot) August 28, 2017
Scientists oppose Ponsot’s view, according to a May 2 report by the George Soros-funded Columbia Journalism Review (CJR). CJR reported scientists opposed the media’s tendency to blame hurricanes on man-made climate change.
Yet, a CJR report from Aug. 30 contradicted itself by urging journalists to include climate change in their Hurricane Harvey coverage.
“In a time of crisis, conversations about climate change can come across as insensitive. That doesn’t mean they should be avoided,” CJR wrote.
Sirota, like other journalists calling for climate change coverage, ignored the long drought of major hurricane landfalls. Harvey marked the end of a record-setting 12 year U.S. hurricane landfall drought. Before Harvey, the last major hurricane (Category 3 or above) to make landfall in the U.S. was Wilma in 2005.
While Harvey was certainly a massive category four storm, University of Agder (Norway) professor Ilan Kelman wrote for Business Insider that Houston’s destruction was due more to poor civil engineering than the brute force of nature.
HuffPost India editor and Columbia Journalism graduate Anirvan Ghosh ignored the engineering problems. Ranting against President Donald Trump on Twitter Aug. 27, Ghosh blamed Harvey’s damage on “the destructive power of nature, inflated by climate change.”
This is the destructive power of nature, inflated by climate change. Thanks to Trump’s policies, such change will accelerate.
— Anirvan Ghosh (@anirvanghosh) August 28, 2017
It’s high time Trump recognized that climate change can destroy our planet unless it is stopped. But instead, he denies it while ppl suffer.
— Anirvan Ghosh (@anirvanghosh) September 6, 2017
Sirota similarly implied Harvey, Irma and the Montana wildfires were all results of climate change:
Montana is on fire, Houston is under water, Florida is facing one of history’s largest hurricanes…but we can’t talk about climate change.
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) September 5, 2017
He even fantasized that “the last moment of humanity” will feature a Republican and oil executive disputing climate change. It was his way of mocking man-made climate change skeptics.
Times columnist Nicholas Kristof blamed Harvey entirely on climate change in a Sept. 2, op-ed headlined “We Don’t Deny Harvey, So Why Deny Climate Change?”
Kristof likened responding to Harvey without talking about climate change to cleaning up 9/11 without considering the overarching threat of terrorism.
“We can’t have an intelligent conversation about Harvey without also discussing climate change,” he wrote. He failed to explain what caused hurricanes before climate change supposedly impacted the world.
He also linked Irma to climate change on Sept. 6.
Ignoring climate change is not proving to be an effective strategy to combat it. https://t.co/3JPonZdTTi
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) September 6, 2017
Politico senior investigative reporter Josh Meyer also linked Irma and climate change.
Probably unrelated to climate change, right? Irma most powerful storm ever recorded in Atlantic Ocean – CBS News https://t.co/pBIzetNUwa
— Josh Meyer (@JoshMeyerDC) September 6, 2017
Meyer linked to a CBS story reporting Irma was the most powerful storm recorded in the Atlantic.
Irma can only be considered the strongest Atlantic hurricane if the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico are excluded, which CBS noted. Hurricane Wilma, in 2005, was actually the strongest storm on record. It had both higher top wind speeds and lower surface pressure than Irma — the two measures of hurricane strength.
ProPublica senior reporter Charles Ornstein called for a “lexicon for floods in the era of climate change” while ProPublica Documenting Hate partner manager Rachel Glickhouse wondered if Florida Gov. Rick Scott would “utter the words climate change” in the face of Irma.
Read more at Newsbusters.org
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