2011-07-11 05:11:15Seattle Times Bombs on Climate Change -- Sightline Daily
John Hartz
John Hartz

The author of this blog post, Eric Hess, would make an excellent addtion to the SkS team.

Seattle Times Bombs on Climate Change

Seattle Times shows Washington is warming, but won't link it to climate change.
Eric Hess on July 8, 2011 at 10:06 am

Today’s Seattle Times’ headline seemed to say it all: Our new ‘normal’ weather: wetter and warmer. At last, I thought, a front page story on the very real impacts of climate change in our region.

Things start off great. The article acknowledges scientific certainty that average temperatures in Washington have risen half a degree. Yes, it acknowledges that the United States has seen a 1.5 degree increase over the last thirty years. Yes, it says: if you’re among the people who feels like Seattle is getting warmer, you’re right. Things are getting wetter and weirder.

But the reporting deteriorates when the climate-connection comes up. Here’s what comes at the very end of the article:

There’s no simple explanation for the overall changes in Seattle or nationally — or even a consensus as to whether they’re a big deal, given the often polarizing debate surrounding global climate change.

Some scientists say the data provide further evidence that greenhouse gases are building up in the atmosphere, heating the planet.

But Tim Ball, chairman of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, which is skeptical of global warming, told the Los Angeles Times he considers the half-degree rise in the normal U.S. temperature “essentially insignificant.”

Really? Why is the Times emphasizing the tired, old, political debate on climate change rather than giving readers the straight story about scientific consensus? Why do they give the quote—or any ink at all for that matter to a climate-science denier? (When over 97 percent of climate scientists agree on climate change, why only give voice to the negligible minority?).

Here’s the thing: It’s not just about the Seattle Times missing a chance—and responsibility—to get the story right. Downplaying the local reality of climate change, and ignore the warnings of our scientific community is a public disservice. Because the “new normal” isn’t normal at all.