Sorry in advance if this is too broad a question. Feel free to let me know if it is off-topic.
I don't know more than the next person around about climate change, but I am really not a climato-skeptic myself. Yet, I feel uneasy about the way the media reports about the relationship between natural disaster and climate change, and I am looking for an unbiased assessment of these reports.
At least in what some would describe as “mainstream” media, my impression is that the following pattern emerges:
- When a natural disaster or nasty weather seems "intuitively" relatable to global warming (e.g., hurricanes, floods, etc., which a lay person like myself could believe would become more common with global warming), journalists go out of their way to find an expert who will tell them "yes, this is going to be more likely to happen as the planet warms up" and then headline things like "Flooding in Paris Maybe Due To Climate Change", to only cite the latest ( https://www.cbsnews.com/live/video/20180127140626-flooding-in-paris-maybe-due-to-climate-change/?ftag=CNM15cf32c).
- On the other hand, when a natural disaster or nasty weather seems to "intuitively" contradict global warming (e.g., snowstorms, cold-wave, etc., which a lay person like myself has a harder time understanding how the phenomenon would become more common with global warming), journalists go out of their way to find an expert who will tell them "this really is consistent with global warming and does not debunk the predictions of climate models at all" and then headline things like "Why the winter cold snap doesn’t disprove climate change” to only cite the latest (this is the title under which an article once appeared on CBS, before the title seem to have changed to https://www.cbsnews.com/news/adam-sobel-president-trump-global-warming-tweet-climate-change/).
I am not interested in these two examples per se. In particular, I am not claiming these specific reports are biased (or unbiased for that matter, I am simply not qualified to make that call).
Rather, my question is:
- On average, is the media doing a fair and balanced job as an educator of under-informed people (like myself) on that topic?
- Are they providing an even and science-based account of the relationship between natural disaster and global warming, honestly explaining how global warming is a complex phenomenon which may have surprisingly different --- and sometimes maybe “counter-intuitive” for lay people --- impacts here and there (including cooling and increased likelihood of sever weather in some areas)?
- Or are they inflating reports “in favor of” action against climate change (e.g., reports that natural disasters will be more frequent with climate change, and that some “counter-intuitive” event do not disprove climate change), while maybe minimizing other reports of situations in which climate change could impact some areas in ways that some would view as “positive”?
- Following useful comments: if "averaging" makes the question too hard to answer, which media does a good job, and which doesn't?
- Any empirical work done on that question? Did anyone try to text-mine information websites and assess biases (compared to the best scientific evidence) in the media’s presentation of the relationship between natural disaster and global warming?