The obliviousness about humanity's impact on weather patterns due to climate change continues for all too many in the media.
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz provides today's example. Kurtz reports on the near media blackout when it comes to the recent (massive) Nashville floods. Kurtz, just like the Post's reprinting of the weak AP coverage, fails to note that this extreme rainfall (the greatest and third greatest 24 hour periods of rain in a 48 hour period in the history of weather data in Nashville) and the resultant flooding fit well into the climate change predictions (and realities) of increasing amounts of precipitation falling in extreme weather events, increasing total amounts of precipitation, and greater precipitation (total) for this area of the nation.
As per Jeff Masters,
Tennessee and most of the northern 2/3 of the U.S. can expect a much higher incidence of record flooding in coming decades. This will be driven by two factors: increased urban development causing faster run-off, and an increase in very heavy precipitation events due to global warming. Both factors have already contributed to significant increases in flooding events in recent decades over much of the U.S. According the landmark 2009 U.S. Climate Impact Report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, "the amount of rain falling in the heaviest downpours has increased approximately 20 percent on average in the past century, and this trend is very likely to continue, with the largest increases in the wettest places."
The most damning part of Kurtz' piece is the clear statement that he is far from isolated in failing to link Nashville's flooding to human action. Kurtz quoted Mark Silverman, editor ofthe Tennessean:
"Nuances are lost when you do fly-in, fly-out reporting," Silverman says of the coverage. In journalism, he says, "everyone wants to have a villain. But there are no villains yet, except for Mother Nature."
Well, Mark and Howard, at least in part there is quite likely a villain and we have nowhere further to look than in the mirror to see some of the guilty parties.
If the editor of the traditional media outlet in the center of the deluge is unable to see the climate change's menacing clouds amid the deluge, that is indicative of the general failure of the traditional media to connect the dots between science and the real world for their readers.
Let's be clear, there is not a universal failure. "Weather Channel expert Stu Ostro’s discussion of Georgia’s record-smashing global-warming-type deluge" provided a window on this:
Nevertheless, there’s a straightforward connection in the way the changing climate "set the table" for what happened this September in Atlanta and elsewhere. It behooves us to understand not only theoretical expected increases in heavy precipitation (via relatively slow/linear changes in temperatures, evaporation, and atmospheric moisture) but also how changing circulation patterns are already squeezing out that moisture in extreme doses and affecting weather in other ways.
Perhaps Howard Kurtz should take the time to talk with Ostro ...