Media Still Largely Fail to Put Wildfires in Climate Context

A study by Media Matters discovers that most media coverage of wildfires continues to miss the climate connection.


Climate change has led to record heat waves and drought conditions that are increasing the risk of wildfires, yet recent research from Media Matters finds that major TV and print media outlets are not helping the public connect the dots.


From April to July 2013 just 6% of wildfire coverage mentioned the link to climate change.

However, there has been some improvement: Since 2012 TV coverage connecting wildfires to climate change more than doubled and print coverage increased 50%.

Climate change is a major factor influencing the increase in wildfires. Western wildfires are spreading within hotter and drier conditions due to climate impacts such as earlier snowmelt, temperature changes, pine beetle infestations, and drought. 

The length of America’s average wildfire season has expanded by 2.5 months and wildfire acreage continues to grow.

Responding to increased fire risk requires policy change and vigilance regarding the latest science.

Journalists should put wildfires in context by explaining the ways climate change could increase frequency in the West. 

Photo via (cc) Flickr user The National Guard


Date: 2013
Authors: Max Greenberg
Organization: Media Matters
Strategic Approach: Engagement, Framing, Other
Organization: Media Matters
Strategic Approach: Engagement, Framing, Other

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