MeCCO Monthly Summary: Rights to Life, Liberty, Property, and Public Trust Resources

Media and Climate Change Observatory (MeCCO)
June 2019 Summary

June media attention to climate change and global warming roughly doubled from June 2018, while trending slightly lower (-9%) from high levels in May 2019.

At the country level, coverage was notably up in Spain (+8%), Sweden (+8%), India (+67%) and through international wire services (+8%) as well as global radio segments (+26%) in June.

Figure 1 shows trends in newspaper media coverage at the global scale – organized into seven geographical regions around the world – from January 2004 through June 2019.

The increase of 67% from the previous month in Indian media coverage of climate change – across The HinduThe Times of IndiaThe Indian Express and the Hindustan Times – can be attributed in part to record-breaking and sustained heat waves across the country in June, with temperatures peaking at 45.6 degrees Celsius or 114.08°F in New Delhi. For example, journalist Jacob Koshny from The Hindu reported, “critical groundwater resources, which accounted for 40% of India’s water supply, are being depleted at ‘unsustainable’ rates and up to 70% of India’s water supply is ‘contaminated’”. Furthermore, an editorial from Hindustan Times noted, “India, in any case, is facing the worst water crisis in its history. According to NITI Aayog, by 2020, 100 million will be affected by a shortage of groundwater in 21 Indian cities. And about 40% of the population will have no access to drinking water by 2030. It’s not too difficult to discern why India is facing such an acute crisis. A report released by McGill University and Utrecht University blames irrigation techniques, industrial and residential habits combined with climate change for this problem”. Stories of severe heat compounding existing drought and water scarcity issues throughout India (and particularly in Northern India) provided news hooks for media stories. Also, stories of declining water levels in the India, Ganga and Brahmaputra basins, partly attributed to the rapid retreat of the Himalayan glaciers feeding these river basins generated media attention in India. And the impacts of heat waves on energy demands, particularly in cities, drove increased coverage.  

In addition, United States (US) media coverage increased in June: coverage in the US was up 5% in print media and nearly 47% on television compared to the previous month. When this increase across outlets is disaggregated, one can detect a slightly different set of trends (see Figure 3). These show that in fact most of these increases are due to increased coverage at The New York Times followed by increases at The Washington Post in print, and on CNNFox News and MSNBC in television, coverage. In fact, these increases across US media coverage of climate change in recent months are occurring in spite of rather than because of more abundant coverage in the leading US network news organizations – ABC NewsCBS NewsNBC News, and PBS Newshour* – along with US prestige press outlets – The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

For example, one day in the print edition of The New York Times – Wednesday, June 5 – nearly outpaced coverage across the entire month in The Wall Street Journal (which carried a total of 11 stories in June). Stories on that day addressed issues associated with climate change including ‘Biden’s Plan for Climate Action Goes Beyond Obama’s Goals’ on the front page above the fold, international news of the Danish elections and how “climate and immigration fuel the divide” (page A5), news of protests in London to US President Trump’s visit, with mention by journalist Ceylan Yeginsu of one placard on the street reading ‘climate change is real, your tan is not’ (page A6), a story about climate change motivating France to end the disposal of $900 million in unsold goods each year (page A8), coverage of an ongoing US federal court case regarding whether young people have a constitutional right to be protected from climate change (page A10), a story by reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis on research into avoided deaths associated with climate mitigation and adaptation commitments in line with the Paris Agreement (page A20), a Nicholas Kristof op-ed addressing the role of climate change in migration patterns (page A26), and story by journalist Brad Plumer entitled ‘Companies Expect to Feel Climate Change’s Bite in 5 years’ (page B4). Read more …

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