A Storm of Silence: Media Coverage of Climate Change and Hurricane Harvey

Human-caused climate change is increasing extreme weather events. In fact, climate change made Hurrican Harvey stronger than it would otherwise have been by warming the air and the Gulf of Mexico.

Yet major news outlets are falling far short of connecting climate to extreme weather events – and Hurricane Harvey is no exception.

Public Citizen examined Hurricane Harvey coverage by 18 sources – 10 major newspapers, three weekly magazines and national programming from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox – from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1.

Read the Full Report: A Storm of Silence

Key Findings:

  • Two major networks, ABC and NBC, did not mention climate change in the context of Harvey at all.
  • The Wall Street Journal scarcely covered the issue in its news reporting and gave a platform to skeptics when it did.
  • CNN, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Houston Chronicle produced 72% of the pieces that mentioned climate change (just four of the 18 outlets we analyzed).
  • Twenty percent of pieces that mentioned climate connected it to human activity; and
  • Twelve percent mentioned the possibility of mitigating climate change.