Global temperatures reached a new high in 2016, marking the first time the planet experienced three consecutive years of record warmth, according to a report published this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
But you wouldn’t know about the alarming trend from the network public affairs shows that aired Sunday, which are closely watched by and feature top members of the media, administration and Congress. None of the major shows ― NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ABC’s “This Week,” CBS’s “Face the Nation,” CNN’s “State of the Union” or Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday” ― included any discussion about the report or climate change in general.
In an amusing twist, the only mention of the report came early Sunday morning during a segment on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” In it, comedian Michael Che lamented how “hard it is to get people to freak out about bees dying or global warming because everyone loves warm weather and they hate bees.”
Annual global temperature records have been broken five times since the beginning of the century ― in 2005, 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. The NOAA found that last year:
The globally averaged sea surface temperature was the highest on record, 1.35 degree F above average.
The globally averaged land surface temperature was the highest on record, 2.57 degrees F above average.
North America had its warmest year on record; South America and Africa had their second; Asia and Europe had their third; and Australia had its fifth.
The average Arctic sea ice extent for the year was 3.92 million square miles, the smallest annual average since record-keeping began in 1979.
The average Antarctic sea ice extent for the year was 4.31 million square miles, the second smallest annual average since record-keeping began in 1979.
The beltway insiders on the Sunday news shows, however, seemed preoccupied by talking about how many people attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration, his lie about the estimation and the subsequent outrage over it.
Addressing the hoopla on “This Week,” ABC’s Jon Karl urged the media to “be careful as reporters and as journalists not to take the bait and not to get into an endless discussion about issues that are trivial. How many people, the crowd size –– just not important.”
Regardless of whether it’s intentional, the end result of Trump’s petty falsehoods is that less time and oxygen are available for addressing weightier matters. While the Sunday shows spent tons of time on crowd sizes, an existential threat to the planet went undiscussed, as did the administration’s prospective response to it.