News versus Opinion

The Climate Crisis

News: In the Aftermath of Hurricane Ida, The Guardian published a story whose title borrows a recent quote from President Biden, ‘Climate crisis is here’ says Biden in week of storms, floods and wildfires. This article contained a number of relevant links, including Biden’s White House remarks on the subject, along with other Guardian coverage of the storm’s impact on the Gulf coast and the historic flooding in the Northeast. The text featured several Biden quotes, including his pivot linking Ida’s destructive power and the wildfires out west to create a larger narrative about the need for immediate action. The thrust of the article opens up a wider discourse about the Climate Crisis: how it was talked about in the Trump Era, what steps are being taken now, and importantly, where the stirring rhetoric doesn’t correspond to the administration’s plans to open up vast areas of the Gulf of Mexico to further oil and gas exploration. This is an excellent example of a news story that reports the facts, supports them with in-depth reportage, and furthers the conversation on an important subject.

Opinion: This article published by The Hill, How easily the climate crisis can become global chaos wasn’t readily identifiable as an opinion piece from the link in the Google search results, though it does appear under the Opinion tab on The Hill’s website and carries a small disclaimer beneath the by-line.

Throughout the text, Dr. Jeff Masters makes use of statistics on grain production, a 2015 risk report from the insurance company Lloyds of London on the potential for food shortages and numerous articles from the blog he founded, Weather Underground . He then cites a study that found a correlation between Climate Change and the Arab Spring, a report produced by The Center for American Progress, a liberal leaning research and advocacy organization. Personally, I’d like to see other research that corroborates these findings.

Although I agree with Dr. Master’s methodology and assertions and believe he presents a very compelling argument, it is clear that it is his opinion that “global chaos” is on the immediate horizon and that “humans caused the climate crisis, we can solve it.”

News: In a brief article published by Mother Jones, Basement Apartments Were Already Dangerous. Then Came the Climate Crisis, reporter Nathalie Baptiste looks at Hurricane Ida from the perspective of her “beat”, how marginalized communities are impacted by government policies.

The text makes use of social media accounts including videos and cites a NY Times article on the subject several times. Baptiste also provides rental price data, and reporting from the NY based website, The City to support her article’s claims, that illegal basement dwellings are unsustainable and need to be brought up to code and the urgent need for affordable housing in New York.

The Climate Crisis is a multifaceted “wicked problem” that exposes weaknesses in disaster planning, physical infrastructure, economic allocations, public policies, and the social safety net. So often, those most impacted by disasters are the poor. This article straddles the line between news and opinion. Although it contains little original reporting, I considered it news in the vein of advocacy journalism. The facts, statistics, and reports the author utilizes raise awareness and offer perspective on a well-documented, desperate situation made even worse by the Climate Crisis.

Opinion: This article that appeared recently in the New York Times, To Address the Climate Crisis, Focus on More Than Carbon Dioxide was easily flagged as an opinion piece, since the prescriptive title was a dead giveaway. (It also had the word opinion on the title page) Written by the chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) the text cites data from NASA the EPA and the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. She makes the case that we need to cut not only carbon dioxide emissions, but turn our focus to include methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas, which makes up 85-90% of natural gas and is being released into the environment at every step of its production and use. This opinion piece is meant to inform and motivate Americans to urge their representatives to support upcoming climate legislation as well as increase the public pressure on her Republican colleagues.

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