Covering climate change: Missing the forest for the trees
by John Reiner M. Antiquerra
Published in the January – February 2011 issue of PJR Reports
The Philippine media reported on the possible effects of the unusually cold weather last January on food supply, public health and even on tourism. They did stories on the prices of vegetables from Benguet province, the decrease in fish catch, the increase in cold weather-related diseases, and even the tourism boom in Baguio as people from the lowlands flocked to the summer capital to sample the cold weather. But the media failed to provide extensive reporting on the bigger picture, which is climate change.
The TV5 news program Aksyon’s (Action) report on the decrease in the country’s fish supply due to the cold weather did note that fish sellers don’t understand the effect of climate change on what was happening. While it managed to explain through an interview with an environmentalist that fish tend to swim deeper during cold weather, it failed to explain what climate change is all about.
In an ABS-CBN 2 TV Patrol report, a Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) official in Baguio City explained that the unusual drop in temperature in the city was due to strong winds from the Northeast and climate change. But again, the report failed to explain what climate change is and how it was driving the cold weather. The current manifestation of climate change is global warming. Simply saying that what’s happening to the weather is due to climate change fails to provide the information that global warming, which scientists say is triggering weather extremes, is causing the worldwide extremes of cold and excessive rainfall.