Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Call It Global Warming

In Peabody, Ovel Santiago, Chayanne Vasquez, Scott Ingham, and Keiana Christiansen floated down Walnut Street yesterday on a piece of styrofoam they found. (Bill Greene / Globe Staff)

Finally the rains have stopped. Here in Central Mass., we just got days of rain, high rivers and streams, and puddles. The coast from Boston to Portland got soaked, with flooded houses and roads, dam collapse, and entire city centers under water.

Local news has pre-empted regular programming for wall-to-wall coverage of rain falling, water coursing down closed Route 1, the Spicket River Dam collapsing in Methuen, A hundred year rain, our governor the Mittwit called it, the worst in 70 years. Wonder why it came 30 years early? Could it be the phenomenon that dare not speak its name, global warming?

No answers to this question from our local meteorologists. I watched plenty of local weather coverage, and not once, not once did I hear anyone mention global warming.

Yesterday I googled 'new england', flooding, and 'global warming'; I only got one relevant article written after our flooding rain started. This is it:

ABC News: Wild Weather: Global Warming, or Just Weird?

It's a typical corporate journalism effort, giving both sides of the global warming debate as though they were equal (although they are not; there is no longer any significant scientific debate over the reality of global warming). The article ends with a passive voice non-conclusion, so popular in modern journamalism:

Call it global warming or don't. But most people can agree that all this extreme weather can be a costly proposition. Just last year the world incurred more than $200 billion in economic losses as a result of weather-related natural disasters.

That makes 2005 the costliest year on record, according to the Munich Re Foundation. That's the same figure U.S. Public Interest Research Group reported that the United States spent resolving weather-related incidents throughout the whole decade of the 1990s.

It's time for the corporate media to wake up and call it global warming. The evidence is overwhelming; why is it never mentioned in weather news is incomprehensible. Even articles about record-breaking high temperatures say nothing about global warming. Look at this little blurb, again from ABC News:

ABC News: April '06: Warmest on Record in U.S.

Drought, Wildfires and Tornadoes Swept Nation

— - This past April was the hottest ever in the United States, according to records going back to 1895, said the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

The hottest states were Texas and Oklahoma, which had their warmest April on record, while New Mexico, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee recorded their second warmest. Twelve other states recorded one of their top-five warmest Aprils on record.

The intensely warm spring weather helped intensify thunderstorms that spawned hundreds of tornadoes across the Midwest, killing at least 10 people.

It also exacerbated drought conditions, which affected 31 percent of the contiguous United States, an increase of 5 percent from March. There were numerous wildfires, especially in the Southeast.

The good news:
The record warm temperature led to below-normal residential energy demand across the country, as measured by the nation's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index.

Like that little 'on the other hand' conclusion? No mention of global warming, but there is good news to be found in record-breaking heat. Because there are two equal sides to every story in the happy-talk world of the modern corporate journalist.

Journalism is dead. Long live the corporate medial.

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