The past two weeks have witnessed the worst forest fires in Colorado history, a deadly Mid-Atlantic storm that left 23 dead and 4 million without power, and a record-shattering heatwave across the East Coast and the Midwest that has not been seen since the Dust Bowl. More than 2,000 heat records have been broken in the past week. As the words "extreme weather" flash across TV screens, where are the other two words: "global warming"?
Democracy Now! hosts a discussion about the politics of news reporters linking climate change to their coverage of extreme weather events with The Guardian's U.S. environment correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg and Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground website.
"I think it's important for the public to hear that what we're seeing now is the future," Masters says. "We're going to be seeing a lot more weather like this, a lot more impacts like we're seeing from this series of heatwaves, fires, and storms. And we'd better prepare for it. We'd better educate people what's going on, give the best science that's out there on what climate change is doing and where it's likely to head. I think we're missing a big opportunity here -- or our TV meteorologists are -- to educate and tell the population what is likely to happen. This is just the beginning -- this kind of summer weather we're having. This is just the beginning."
Goldenberg just returned from Colorado, where she was on assignment reporting on the massive wildfires. "Absolutely, climate change is a big factor here. We've had a 10-year-or-more drought across the West. You haven't had rain. And when you have had rain, it hasn't come at the right time or in the right quantity. Crucially, you haven't had snow. You've had really mild winters," Goldenberg explains. "It's that dry. And that's an effect of climate change."
Author and professor Christian Parenti argues on Democracy Now! that the Republican-led assault on the public sector will leave states more vulnerable to global warming's effects.
"Another thing that's missing from these discussions is not just the words 'climate change' but the words 'public sector,'" Parenti says. "I mean, who's out there fighting these fires? It's the public sector, you know? Where do people go when there are these cooling centers? It's the public sector. ... This assault on the public sector must be linked to climate change."
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