Manufacturing Immediate Fear of Climate Change

The images are just too good to pass up. A rain-soaked journalist, his wet hair plastered against his face as he struggles to stand against a fierce wind, reporting from a hurricane-besieged coastal city. Another reporter wearing hip waders, standing in a flooded street, laments the coming cresting of a river. An exhausted, soot-stained fireman pours his heart out during a long-overdue break fighting wildfires in California. A wide shot of the hot sun bearing down on brown and dusty cracked soil, foreshadowing what global warming will ultimately bring.

These scenes of disaster — real or staged — have become common whenever the mainstream media reports on extreme weather while connecting the disaster to the scourge of anthropogenic, or man-made, global warming, which is now referred to more generically as climate change. Any significant or extreme weather event is now hailed as proof of man-made climate change.

During the recent coverage of Hurricane Florence, many media outlets went even further than that.The Washington Post editorial board went so far as to claim that one man — President Trump — was somehow complicit with the extreme weather and that his actions were, at least in part, responsible for the destruction the storm wrought.

“Yet when it comes to extreme weather, Mr. Trump is complicit,” the Post’s board claimed. “He plays down humans’ role in increasing the risks. It is hard to attribute any single weather event to climate change. But there is no reasonable doubt that humans are priming the Earth’s systems to produce disasters.”

In the not-so-distant past, serious climate scientists would deny the Post’s assertion and tell us that individual weather events could not be reasonably blamed on global warming. To do so, they said, was to not have a proper understanding of climate vs. weather, with weather being what we experience meteorologically over short periods of time and climate being an average of how the weather behaves over long periods of time.