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Climate change is the elephant in the room the media choose to overlook 

Colin Murphy


Global warming is the story of our time. So why is news coverage always so scant here?

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A woman carrying a child and belongings wades through flood waters following heavy rain in Zhengzhou, China. Picture by Aly Song/Reuters

A woman carrying a child and belongings wades through flood waters following heavy rain in Zhengzhou, China. Picture by Aly Song/Reuters

A woman carrying a child and belongings wades through flood waters following heavy rain in Zhengzhou, China. Picture by Aly Song/Reuters

In 10 stories on the Irish heatwave on the RTÉ News website between July 14 and yesterday morning there were just two brief references to climate change. This contrasted with coverage of the heatwave in Britain: on a cursory search of the BBC, Guardian and Times websites, at least, I found references to climate change to be a matter of course.

Coverage of the floods in Germany and Belgium in the international media, likewise, routinely linked them to climate change: “Europe’s floods are latest signs of climate crisis” was the front-page headline in the New York Times; “Devastating floods in Germany warn Europe of the dangers of warming”, announced the Economist. Meanwhile, RTÉ ran a story headlined, “Too soon to say floods linked to climate change — experts”.

Indeed, the body of that story made the connection between global warming and the greater frequency of flash flooding events clear; still, the sceptical tone of the headline seemed symptomatic of a puzzling lack of curiosity about the context of an outbreak of tropical weather on our very non-tropical island.


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