Global heat wave: an epic TV news fail

By Dawn Stover | July 19, 2018

Simulation of maximum temperatures on July 18 at two meters above the ground, from the Global Forecast System weather model. Credit: University of Maine Climate Reanalyzer

This month’s scorching heat wave broke records around the world. The Algerian city of Ouargla, with a population of half a million, had a temperature of 124.3 degrees Fahrenheit on July 6, the hottest reliably measured temperature on record in Africa. In Ireland and Wales, the unusually hot weather revealed ancient structures normally hidden by grass or crops. In Chino, California, the mercury soared to 120 degrees. Another round of hazardous summer heat is expected this week, with record high temperatures possible in the southern United States.

The prolonged heat wave has been a staple of television news for weeks. However, most of the coverage has been sorely lacking in context: Humans are warming the planet, and scientists have already linked some heat waves to climate change. A recent analysis published in the journal Nature Climate Change concludes that human-driven climate change, rather than natural variability, will be the leading cause of heat waves over the western United States and Great Lakes region as early as the 2020s and 2030s, respectively.

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Like the heat itself, much of the media coverage was stupefying. “Major broadcast TV networks overwhelmingly failed to report on the links between climate change and extreme heat,” according to a Media Matters survey. “Over a two-week period from late June to early July, ABC, CBS, and NBC aired a combined 127 segments or weathercasts that discussed the heat wave, but only one segment, on CBS This Morning, mentioned climate change.”

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TV coverage would undoubtedly improve if weather forecasters were better informed about climate science. But four Republican senators with close ties to the fossil fuel industry are trying to eliminate government funding for a National Science Foundation designed to help forecasters (and by extension, the general public) “become more familiar with the science behind how their local weather and its trends are related to the dynamics of the climate.”

Publication Name: Media Matters
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Global heat wave: an epic Bulletin fail. The clue is in the word “global”. Presumably news media only exist in the US…


“TV coverage would undoubtedly improve if weather forecasters were better informed about climate science.”
I would say it MIGHT improve, but saying it would “undoubtedly” improve is factually incorrect and could be seen as an intelectualy lazy assertion. You are presuming that the lack of a connection between extreme weather and climate change being made in the media can be attributed to ignorance. I think it can be fairly assumed that at least part of the lack of meaningful coverage regarding this connection, can be attributed to an unwillingness to upset donors or to support particular ideologies. e.g. fox news.

Chris WB
Chris WB

Climate scientists have long been predicting the most likely result of climate change is a reduction in buffers at all ends of the climate spectrum. In other words we’re due for the hottest, the coldest, the driest, the wettest, the windiest, and the least windy, often all in the same year. Unless our lifestyles change radically, better get ready for climate chaos.

aaron dawson
aaron dawson

If people were protesting in the streets I would join them. For whatever reason we’re an incredibly selfish nation focused on the narrowest of concerns. For most of my life I’ve felt there were gross injustices such as this that in a healthy society should not tolerate but we do nonetheless.


I saw a Bell Telephone Labs documentary back in 1960 or so that warned of the danger
of global warming. This is nothing new.

Here’s an excerpt from that film:


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