Climate denial in the US can impart be attributed to the lack of news coverage on such a pressing issue. When reporting on the crisis falls short it creates a lack of urgency in the public. With much of the public in the shadows, politicians and corporations feel no urge to create change. Their indifference is reflected back onto the public, giving everyone a false sense of security with such a threatening issue.
Many news corporations rely on good ratings to continue putting out adequate news coverage. Better ratings equivalates to more money generated. The problem is that coverage on the climate crisis almost always receives bad ratings with few people watching or reading about it. This creates an incentive for news companies to not cover it. For example in October of 2018, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report warning us that we have only 12 years to decrease our greenhouse gas emissions and change how many sectors of our economy are run. The future could see millions of climate refugees and food shortages if we don’t act soon. The IPCC report outlined that to prevent irreversible damage, we must limit the global temperature from rising 1.5° Celsius. However, only 22 of 50 of the US’s biggest newspapers covered this. Out of the 22 newspapers that featured the IPCC report, only a handful included the report on the front page. This lack of coverage leaves the public out on such a serious issue.
Another major issue with the media is that they make global warming seem like an opinion rather than an indisputable fact. For decades, scientists have done countless studies and research to prove that climate change is real. Yet, the lack of news coverage creates public ignorance. This further fuels the absence of responsibility by politicians and corporations to take action. Many news companies include political opinion and make it seem like science is not as factual as it really is. They want to make it seem like climate change is a debatable topic and give an equal chance to skepticism. While 97% of scientists agree that climate change is real and being caused by humans, the media presents global warming as if scientists are 50/50 on the topic. This is why many Americans today do not believe climate change is real. On top of that, climate change is misrepresented by people with little scientific background. Some renowned scientists are even being paid to deny climate change. One physicist, Frederick Seitz, a pioneer of solid-state physics, was paid 45 million dollars by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to deny the risks of smoking in the 1960s. A few decades later and he was again funded by fossil fuel companies to act as a climate denier. Many news outlets have interviewed people like Seitz and published news articles that argue that climate crisis is an opinion, not a strong fact.
As dooming as it may look — and it looks pretty bad — there are some news corporations that have begun reporting climate change in a direct fashion. These news sources include The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. Additionally, many meteorologists around the US have begun communicating the effects of climate change when doing their daily forecasting. Through educating their audience about how a change in climate directly effects their community, it draws people in and makes them feel a personal connection with the matter.
Climate change touches every aspect of life, whether you are in America or China, it has repercussions on everyone. Better news coverings would help to increase the public’s role in fighting climate change and urging their local representatives for climate policy.