SSN Commentary

To Address Climate Crisis, Address the Information Crisis

Policy field

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University of Washington

Originally published in The Seattle Times on October 18, 2023.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reported that 2023 is already the most expensive year on record for weather and climate disasters in the U.S., with 23 separate disasters that have caused at least $1 billion each in estimated damages.

This year also saw an uptick in death threats against meteorologists. In July, the hottest month in recorded history, angry viewers leveled death threats at weather people on TV who mentioned climate change. One much-publicized case featured Iowa TV meteorologist Chris Gloninger. He tied recent off-the-charts weather in that state to climate change and drew a downpour of harassment. One emailer threatened to show up at Gloninger’s house. Gloninger said the Des Moines station where he worked asked him to "dial back" climate references under "understandable pressure to maintain ratings." In June, Gloninger quit his job. The "anti-science trend," The Associated Press wrote, was compounding "a deepening skepticism of the news media."