Carbon Omission: How the U.S. Media Failed to Connect Extreme Weather to Climate Change in 2018

This report examines media coverage of extreme weather events in 2018 and assesses the extent to which outlets connected the topics to climate change. It also looks at whether the media mentioned solutions when discussing climate change.


“News outlets are giving the crisis our time far less attention than it merits – and far less than the public wants,” said David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program. “The media have a major role to play in jump-starting the kind of national conversation we need to rise to this challenge, and there is plenty of reason to believe better climate coverage would engage audiences.”


  • The proportion of pieces that mentioned climate change in climate-relevant contexts was decidedly low.
  • Pieces on record drought were most likely to mention climate change. Only 35% did so. For extreme heat, the rate was similar: 34%.
  • Some topics, like hurricanes, saw scant mention of climate at all, with just 7% of pieces discussing Hurricanes Florence or Michael mentioning climate change or global warming.
  • Among pieces that mentioned climate change or global warming, only 12.5% discussed solutions or mitigation. For the top 50 U.S. newspapers, the rate was just 8%, and for national television news just 5%.
  • One major bright spot: The media did better in 2018 than 2017 on most topics—often significantly better.

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Date: 2019
Organization: Public Citizen
Strategic Approach: Framing
Organization: Public Citizen
Strategic Approach: Framing

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