The Mainstream Media's Climate Malpractice

A state of disaster has been declared in 31 flooded Texas counties as rivers in the region are cresting at historic highs.

Six people have died, up to four more people are missing, and hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes in Houston as the Brazos River reached over 54 feet in Fort Bend County.

On the East Coast, the National Hurricane Center declared that Tropical Depression Bonnie, which caused significant flash flooding in the American Southeast over Memorial Day weekend, has "revived" off the coast of North Carolina.

It's not just remarkable that Bonnie "revived" itself as a Tropical Depression - it's remarkable that 2016 is the second year in a row that the Atlantic hurricane season has begun before June 1st.

Over in Europe meanwhile, the French government issued an orange alert in response to days of torrential rains that brought the Seine's water level to over 5 meters.

As a result, the Louvre announced earlier today that it was not admitting any more visitors to the museum and that the museum will be closed to the public on Friday so that staff can prepare for the worst.

Nine people in total have died across northern Europe as a result of the storms and subsequent flooding: streets are submerged, schools have been forced to close, thousands of people have been evacuated, and others have been stranded on their rooftops.

The Loiret region in France alone has gotten six weeks of rainfall in three days, and the situation in Europe has been described as "worse than the floods of 1910", which cost France roughly $1.5 billion in today's dollars.

And the mainstream media in this country is committing malpractice with their coverage of these events.

The simple fact is, these storms are directly connected to global climate change.

More specifically, these storms are directly related to the "water vapor positive feedback loop".

Right now according to climate scientist Kevin Trenberth, there is about 5% more water vapor in the atmosphere above the oceans than there was in 1968 when Richard Nixon was sworn in, thanks to the fact that the oceans have already warmed 1 degree.

We know that the planet is warming and that it's warming because of human activities: we rip fossil fuels out of the Earth and burn them into the atmosphere, we destroy our soils with industrial farming, and we clear cut carbon-rich rainforests to plant fields of monocrops.

All of those activities have contributed to unprecedented, and unnatural, global warming over the last century and a half.

And as a result, the planet's atmosphere can hold more moisture than it could have in the absence of man-made global warming.

That's because warmer systems can hold more moisture: think about how much stickier and wet it feels if it's 90 degree Fahrenheit at 90 percent humidity than it feels if it's 45 degree Fahrenheit at 90 percent humidity.

And water vapor acts just like any other greenhouse gas in the atmosphere: it reflects light and heat back in all directions, including back towards Earth.

This leads to the "water vapor positive feedback loop" that causes a dangerous amplification in warming over time.

A warmer planet can hold more moisture in the atmosphere, more moisture in the atmosphere leads to more warming, more warming means that the atmosphere can hold more moisture, and so on and so on.

But water vapor is also very good at trapping energy, and in fact we use "calorie" as a basic measurement of energy and we define it simply as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius at sea level.

What that means is that more water vapor in the atmosphere doesn't just mean more light and heat reflected back to Earth, it means more energy is trapped in the atmosphere at any given time.

According to NASA, as the Earth approaches 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warming, the resulting increase in water vapor will trap an extra 2 Watts of energy per square meter.

And as Andrew Dessler told NASA, "That number may not sound like much, but add up all of that energy of the entire Earth surface and you find that water vapor is trapping a lot of energy.

We now think the water vapor feedback is extraordinarily strong, capable of doubling the warming due to carbon dioxide alone."

Which brings us back to the storms in Texas, and off the coast of North Carolina, and in Northern Europe, where these unprecedented storm events are killing dozens of people, stranding hundreds others, forcing thousands of people to evacuate, and easily costing millions, if not billions, of dollars in disaster relief.

If the mainstream media were doing its job responsibly, they wouldn't just tell you about how the storms are unprecedented, they would tell you how global climate change is driving these unprecedented storm events.

If the mainstream media were doing its job responsibly, they wouldn't just tell you the estimated cost of disaster relief, they would tell you that according to Citibank, the estimated cost of climate inaction is around $44 TRILLION globally.

But they won't.

Because that sort of honest reporting in the public interest would fly in the face of major corporate sponsors and lobbying groups like BP, Exxon, and the American Petroleum Institute.

It's bad enough that those groups are sowing disinformation during commercial breaks on our news channels, but it's downright malpractice by the mainstream media to avoid mentioning climate change during their broadcasts for fear of losing out on fossil fuel sponsorship.

The corporate media in this country need to stop kowtowing to vested fossil fuel advertisers that want to keep the American public in the dark, and they need to start telling people the truth about the connections between extreme weather events and climate change.

We can't expect the American public to rally to aggressively address our climate crisis if the mainstream media refuses to talk about the realities of climate change.


cccccttttt 8 years 3 weeks ago

Begging multinationals to go against their bottom line is a cruel joke.

They have had their way for decades whether by the bribe or the bullet.

But, we citizens have one weapon that definitely gets their attention.



LaurieBethKay 8 years 3 weeks ago

"Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all transportation combined,", Spotlight: Livestock impacts on the environment. So if we eliminate all forms of transportation that require fossil fuels, we're still stuck with that elephant in the room. We can't live without transportation since absolutely everything depends on it and it would be pretty useless to try to boycott, but we can most definitely stop eating animals and not only survive but thrive, all 7+ billion of us.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 8 years 3 weeks ago

As you already know Thom, the problem is the god almighty dollar, and the arbitrary power that comes from too many of those dollars in too few hands. By far the vast majority of us lead quiet hard working lives. The out of control obsession for endless wealth and power are both problems most of us tend to avoid.

Those weaker individuals among us who can't seem to get a handle on never getting enough of getting more need to be regulated by a good government, one put in place by a sensible/well informed vast majority....the kind of vast majority that would exist if we had a responsible news media.

With the message being controlled by the out of control, we no longer have a representative democracy,....not even remotely. It seems much of our society has been bewitched by the rich via the media. For example, you won't hear the media mention that Paul Ryan is obsessed with cutting Social Security....they still call it Ryan's plan for entitlement reform. Heaven help him if the citizens ever find out the truth regarding his budget plans. Both Bernie and Hillary need to inform the public that Trump has climbed on board with Ryan's extreme hatred for the working class.

I sadly see a time quickly approaching when words may no longer be enough.


gooserock's picture
gooserock 8 years 3 weeks ago

Well the Princeton study 2-3 years ago measured laws passed by government, and found that government had already stopped regularly representing any of us except the very rich by the time Reagan came to office. So the time you see as quickly approaching already happened, around the time of Disco.

I don't mean to jump you about missing it, there's been a lot of that going around in the USA.

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