There was some great video footage of the recent wildfires delivered up by Oklahoma City television stations, but unfortunately the local corporate media here seems to be missing a key element of the story.
That key element is that Oklahoma has become an epicenter and poster child of global warming, as predicted by climatologists long ago. I didn’t watch the fire coverage every minute on every news station locally, but I did watch enough to know that global warming wasn’t a major, if any, part of the story. That’s both unethical and a tragedy.
According to media reports, dozens of structures have been destroyed and 52,000 acres have been burnt in the several wildfires that raged in places like Luther, Glencoe and Cleveland County over the last two days or so. Fortunately, authorities are expecting some relief today because of cooler temperatures, but the fire danger could remain high for several more weeks.
This is most likely the prelude of what Oklahomans can expect for many summers to come.
Authorities were seeking a person they say was throwing burning newspapers out a black F-150 Ford pickup truck near the Luther-area fire, but there was no discussion of the larger issue of climate change or whether the state has become an example of environmental disaster. The burning newspapers may have directly caused one of the fires, but global warming gave it the fuel to burn out of control.
As Oklahoma burned, a leading government scientist stated, again, the obvious, which is that man-made global warming caused by carbon emissions is to blame for the recent blistering heat and extreme weather across the country and world.
NASA scientist James Hansen put it this way, according to a media report:
This is not some scientific theory. We are now experiencing scientific fact.
Over the past two days or so, Oklahoma has, again, become that scientific fact, although our corporate media, tied to the oil and gas industry in direct and subtle ways, has failed to raise the issue in any substantive manner. I believe this is intentional. As I wrote, this is unethical. Here are some reasons why:
- Oklahomans need to become aware that the type of heat we’re experiencing, according to leading climatologists, is not some temporary aberration or part of a larger weather cycle. Although there could be some yearly deviations, summers in Oklahoma are going to be hotter and drier in the foreseeable future. Armed with this information, Oklahomans can make wiser choices for themselves. News media outlets should at the very least do consistent stories that present the scientific evidence and how it impacts Oklahoma.
- Agriculture remains a major part of the Oklahoma economy. Are state leaders planning for the impact of not only a multi-year drought but permanent drier conditions that might drastically reduce agricultural output in the state? Climatologists are predicting our area of the country will face warmer, drier conditions indefinitely unless we begin an earnest effort to mitigate global warming. At the very least, we should plan for disaster. That won’t happen unless global warming becomes a consistent part of the weather discussion in this state. The corporate media here needs to lead this discussion.
- The corporate media’s failure here to present the scientific evidence of global warming on a consistent basis dumbs down our students. Why even study science when it’s all just a liberal “hoax”? That’s what our students hear. The scientific method is an important part of our world. (Look at advances in medicine over the last few decades.) To deliberately ignore scientific fact and scientific evidence is just wrong and unethical. Global warming should be at least a part of the wildfire story, even if it’s just a small part or even presented as a debate.
There is no better time to discuss the impact of global warming than when it becomes apparent. Local corporate media outlets, especially Oklahoma City’s major television stations and their weather staff, need to start and lead the discussion.