Think Progress has done an impressive job, doing that which the corporate media refuses to do: Putting the western wildfires squarely in the context of global warming. More importantly, they’ve documented the fact that the media is indeed mostly ignoring the subject. Gee, I wonder why?
While numerous factors determine the frequency, severity and cost of wildfires, scientific research indicates that human-induced climate change increases fire risks in parts of the Western U.S. by promoting warmer and drier conditions. Seven of nine fire experts contacted by Media Matters agreed journalists should explain the relationship between climate change and wildfires. But an analysis of recent coverage suggests mainstream media outlets are not up to the task — only 3 percent of news reports on wildfires in the West mentioned climate change.
The major television and print outlets largely ignored climate change in their coverage of wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico and other Western states. All together, only 3 percent of the reports mentioned climate change, including 1.6 percent of television segments and 6 percent of text articles.
METHODOLOGY: We searched Nexis and Factiva databases for articles and segments on (wildfire or wild fire or forest fire) between April 1, 2012, and June 30, 2012. News outlets included in this study are ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. MSNBC and Fox News were not included in this analysis because transcripts of their daytime coverage are not available in the Nexis database.
[...] Of nine fire scientists who responded to email inquiries, seven agreed that journalists should explain how manmade climate change could worsen wildfire risk in certain parts of the western U.S. The other two emphasized other major factors that determine the extent of fire damage, or highlighted the regional and subregional variations that make it difficult to draw broad conclusions.