Target: Jim Walton, CNN President
Goal: Embolden the mainstream media to relay the scientific evidence that suggests a strong correlation between extreme storms and climate change
While the first priority of disaster news coverage must always be public safety, now that ‘superstorm’ Hurricane Sandy has passed, the mainstream media can no longer ignore the relation between climate change and severe storms. CNN painstakingly covered Sandy’s movements, damages, and people’s reactions, yet failed to air any extensive segments on the scientific evidence that connects climate change to the frequency and intensity of severe storms that have been significantly increasing for the past 30 years. It’s time to end climate science in American public dialogue.
Though CNN wishes to appear bipartisan, discussing climate change does not need to be a political statement. Objective scientific findings should be an acceptable source for journalists, not cause for tension among political elites or corporate sponsors. The scientific studies in question have found that as the planet heats, so do ocean temperatures, which strongly contribute to the elements necessary to cause dramatic storms like Hurricane Sandy. The increase in severe weather coincides with a global increase of sea surface temperatures, which scientists link to global warming.
Skepticism surrounding climate change stems from doubts of human responsibility for the planet’s warming and cites evidence of climate shifts occurring thousands of years ago. Though each climate study is nuanced and inevitably imperfect, there is sufficient agreement among scientists that the planet is indeed getting warmer and that the change will continue to cause severe and dangerous weather. With the science of climate change constantly evolving, we are not demanding that CNN present a definitive position on the issue, only that they begin the dialogue.
Not everyone has remained silent. Starting Tuesday, climate-related stories began appearing on Al Jazeera, Current TV, MSNBC, NBC, and Fox. The segments aired on Fox were used to express doubts about climate science. Some, like NBC News science reporter Robert Bazell, are referring to superstorms like Sandy as ‘the new normal’. Though views on climate change range from the denialist view on one end to the alarmist, apocalyptic extreme on the other, it is important that the science of climate change is discussed in depth by our most-watched news sources.
Our weather is changing. While the public will always look to newscasters for updates and warnings, they should also be able to find intelligent analysis and discussion on why our climate is altering and how we can effectively respond to the changes. As an around-the-clock news network, CNN has an obligation to the public to delve into climate science so that we might possess the knowledge and understanding needed to stem the rise of destructive storms.
Dear Mr. Walton,
Of the major news channels covering Hurricane Sandy, CNN was among those who failed to include any extensive on-air segments exploring the connection between climate change and an increase in severe storms. As President of Cable News Network, it is your responsibility to ensure that your broadcasters are reporting the most relevant stories accurately and effectively. Though your network must be commended for its thorough coverage in the midst of the hurricane, now that we have transitioned to a period of recovery it’s time to address the vital issue of climate change.
Admittedly, climate change is a divisive political issue because of its socioeconomic implications, but it is also a scientific matter that can be explored empirically and objectively. There is a large consensus among the global scientific community that the warming of the planet is causing ocean temperatures to increase, consequently contributing to an intensification of storms.
There are those that claim that human activity directly correlates to climate change, while others maintain that it is a purely natural progression. If there is even the possibility that our behaviors are contributing to an increase in natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, the public must be informed of the science behind such a correlation.
Please, don’t let political and economic interests affect the integrity of America’s news. If we continue to ignore the threat of climate change, the consequences could be irreversible. Break the silence.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: cehwiedel.com