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Up here in Massachusetts, we’re getting pounded with massive snow. My city’s police department has instituted a snow emergency to remain in effect “until further notice.” Even the hardened municipal workers are overwhelmed, and schools are shut down all over the place.
And Ma Nature is just getting started. It looks like the Midwest is next in line:
“The storm may very well impact a third of the population of the United States — approximately 100 million people,” said meteorologist Tim Ballisty of The Weather Channel.
One-third of the population. Gee, that’s a lot.
But I’m not writing this diary to announce the fact that it’s snowing outside. This is an action diary.
All over the United States, newspapers and broadcast outlets are running stories about the snowstorms — either the ones we’ve just had, the ones we’re having, or the ones that are headed straight for us.
And you know what? The phrase “climate change” appears pretty much nowhere in any of these reports.
Now, compared with the terrifying cyclone that’s aimed at Australia, or the catastrophic flooding that brought Pakistan to its knees, a few gigatonnes of snow is fairly benign. As long as you’ve got milk, bread, electricity, gas, oil, heat, running water and civilizational infrastructure, you’ll probably be okay.
But the fact is that climate change is the rhinoceros in the living room in all these stories about how people are coping with the snow — and our media establishment is absolutely determined to ignore that damned rhino for as long as possible.
So here’s what I’d like you to do.
Do a search on a phrase like “snowstorm news.” Like this one.
Find a media outlet that’s running a story. At 6:23 EST there were something like 2700 pieces in current news, so that won’t be hard.
Check to be sure that, true to form, the piece doesn’t mention climate change or global warming.
Find the contact information, and have some fun with the “mad-lib” below.
“As we _________________________________
(mop up after)
(breathe a sigh of relief that we weren’t affected by)
(beautiful but scary)
snowstorm, it is easy to think of it as _________________________________.
(an isolated phenomenon)
(an anomalous event)
(a local story)
(something that is happening to other people)
But these weather events are connected to a larger story, one that includes _________________________________, _________________________________ and _________________________________
all over the world.
While no single weather event is “caused” by _________________________________,
(anthropogenic climate change)
(the greenhouse effect)
the fact is that climate scientists have been predicting for decades that increased atmospheric temperatures will trigger increases in unusual weather. Despite being _________________________________,
(threatened by tea-baggers)
it looks as if they’ve been right all along.
If we as a nation are to __________________________
(undertake meaningful action on behalf of the planetary systems that sustain us,)
(build a future for our children and their children in turn,)
(live long and prosper,)
(avoid species extinction, which the biologist Frank Fenner thinks is all but inevitable at this point,)
we must ____________________________
(face the facts.)
(use our mentality, wake up to reality.)
(know what’s going on.)
(restore the Jeffersonian ideal of a “well-informed citizenry.”)
(abandon the damaging reliance on false equivalence in our journalism.)
The fact that the phrase “climate change” does not appear at all in this article is ___________________________________
(an unfortunate abdication of journalistic responsibility.)
(an indication of moral bankruptcy on the part of your hopelessly corrupt publisher.)
(a demonstration of how poorly our news media handle the most important threat humanity has ever faced.)
(a fucking outrage!)
Thus, this letter:
“As we mop up after the overwhelming snowstorm, it is easy to think of it as a local story. But these weather events are connected to a larger story, one that includes storms, droughts and freak weather all over the world. While no single weather event is “caused” by anthropogenic climate change, the fact is that climate scientists have been predicting for decades that increased atmospheric temperatures will trigger increases in unusual weather. Despite being threatened by tea-baggers, it looks as if they’ve been right all along.
If we as a nation are to build a future for our children and their children in turn, we must use our mentality, wake up to reality. The fact that the phrase “climate change” does not appear at all in this article is a demonstration of how poorly our news media handle the most important threat humanity has ever faced.”
clocks in at under 150 words, the maximum allowed by the NYT. Many other papers use 200 or even 250, so you can have more room to play.
Of course they won’t print it. That’s not the point. The point is that they need to be called out on their irresponsibility, and the more feedback they get calling them out, the harder it will be for them to do it again.
We may be doomed but I’m damned if I’m going to go silently.
I just got this in my mailbox, undoubtedly as a consequence of posting this as a diary on Daily Kos: