Taking The Temperature Of NPR's Climate Coverage

For some, the coverage is not hot enough (and hard to find).
Floodwater from the Mississippi River cuts off the roadway from Missouri into Illinois at the states' border on May 30, 2019 in Saint Mary, Missouri. Source: Scott Olson

NPR listeners and readers have strong and varied opinions about how NPR should apportion its reporting efforts. But over many months, one topic has come up again and again: climate change.

It's no wonder. The U.S. government's fourth National Climate Assessment released late last year found that "Climate change is already causing more frequent and severe weather across the U.S., and the country is poised to suffer massive damage to infrastructure, ecosystems, health and the economy if global warming is allowed to continue," NPR reported. A United Nations report last fall forecast dire consequences if drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are not implemented soon. Climate change is the No. 1 threat facing the U.S., according to a handful of the Democratic candidates for president.

The concern we often hear repeated boils down to this: NPR's climate change reporting lacks the urgency that the topic requires.

To quote one email: "NPR must become an advocacy force. It cannot simply report the disaster; it has to take affirmative action to address it. NPR has to help lead the conversation, inspire people to act and take risks. And enough 'policy talk'! People need to know concretely what they must do."

And another: "You should be addressing environmental concerns in every capacity as a TOP news story EVERY SINGLE DAY. There are no greater issues facing humanity than climate change, habitat destruction, and pollution

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