Mar 13, 2016 by

The news about our climate continues to get more and more dire. But you wouldn’t know it from watching the news
Tim Donovan SALON.COM


Donald Trump (Credit: AP/Reuters/Rick Wilking/Gerry Broome/Photo montage by Salon)

Though you’ll barely hear about it on CNN or the nightly news, during the last three months the world has been historically warm, with each month eclipsing the previous as the warmest in human history above pre-industrial norms.

In fact, at the beginning of March, global temperatures briefly climbed above 2-degrees Celsius above normal. It’s the perfect example of our inability to address this crisis: For decades, the environmental movement and nearly every global climate agreement has held the 2-degree Celsius mark as the maximum warming we can afford to risk, at least if we hope to ensure that our planet remains habitable for 7 billion-plus human lives. Crossing this climatic Rubicon for the very first time should be a huge story. But don’t turn to CNN for coverage: They’re too busy obsessing over the size of the Republican front-runner’s genitals.

As a nation and a global community, we are set upon a path of such existential risk that, in a sane and just world, the petty squabbles of our head-in-the-sand political class would be eternally foregrounded by coverage of the climate crisis. No debate, press conference or media scrum would end without some mention of the coming catastrophe, and what our hopeful leaders plan to do about it. But we don’t live in a sane or just world. And in this deeply ridiculous version of reality that we do inhabit, we get wall-to-wall coverage of Donald Trump instead.

Trump has been gifted more than twice as many minutes of network news coverage since the start of the campaign than were devoted to climate change in the full six years from 2009 to 2014. The only thing more depressing than that figure is that it comes as no surprise to anyone. As his presidential nomination grows more likely, the amount of coverage devoted to the serial liar and vulgar racist grows in kind.

Meanwhile, the press’s distaste for even mentioning climate change has grown to almost comical proportions this election cycle. A Republican primary debate in February featured noted climate change denier Kimberly Stossel as one of the moderators. (Not that the candidates are any better; Trump thinks global warming is a conspiracy propagated by those clever Chinese.) And a Media Matters study recently found that the moderators of the Democratic primary debates have only asked eight questions about climate change thus far, compared to the 18 times the candidates have brought up the subject. Not prompted to talk about climate change by the moderators, Democratic presidential candidates are doing so anyway, sometimes in stark terms.

Tim Donovan is a freelance writer who’s work has appeared in various publications including VICE, Al-Jazeera America, AlterNet, and Mic. He lives in Queens, New York. Follow him on Twitter at @tadonovan.

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