Time to Stop Talking Around the Big Guy
by ecoAmerica’s Special Projects Director Judy Mills
It’s time we call journalists and editors on their atmospheric omissions.
Tuesday’s New York Times editorial entitled “A Storm Out of Season” talked about the pre-Halloween snowstorm that “astonished” the Northeastern United States with record early snowfall, leaving millions without power and at least nine people dead.
“Storms like this one – surprising, out of season, tumultuous – ought to have names, like hurricanes,” the anonymous editor wrote. How about naming names, as in the perpetrator? The Times deserves credit for its news story the day before that actually mentioned the villain. Yes, you know the one. The one whose name few dare utter. Climate change.
“People trudging through stores in search of sold-out supplies had little time to meditate on climate change. They talked more about how recent storms… had prompted them to buy generators and left them better prepared,” the story reads. It went on to say that while a single storm does not climate change make, “larger patterns of extreme storms and precipitation… support the theory of global warming.” Gasp! Of course, the Times is a lefty elitist mouthpiece, the Tea Party would say.
This bears repeating because it comes from the beloved National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Climate is weather in the aggregate. Weather over time is climate. So those big weather stories that the media endlessly and breathlessly cover as if they were the invasion of Baghdad are actually big climate stories.
Since when do the Tea Party and other extremists get to make a term off limits? Especially a term that comes with the consequences of climate change. We are not just talking about millions without power for a few days or nine people losing their lives. By not discussing climate change and how we as a nation will prepare for and adapt to extreme weather in the aggregate, we are risking our food security, water security, health security, economic security and national security – in short, all of our lives!
One small step toward returning freedom of speech to our lack of discussion about national climate preparedness is to call out members of the press when they demure on mentioning the 800-pound gorilla in the collective room we call Earth’s atmosphere. It’s time we who advocate climate solutions start reminding journalists, their editors and all Americans that patterns of more extreme weather are patterns of more extreme climate. Because if mention of the problem continues to be verboten, no one will engage in solutions.
“The emotion this storm inspired was incredulity,” the Times editorial said. Yes, we should all be incredulous that climate change is upon us and that few besides us are talking about it!