The Weather Channel’s response to Trump’s Paris Agreement pullout was potent and perfect.

The Weather Channel’s Response to Trump’s Paris Pullout Was Potent and Perfect

The Weather Channel’s Response to Trump’s Paris Pullout Was Potent and Perfect

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 1 2017 5:23 PM

The Weather Channel’s Response to Trump’s Paris Pullout Was Potent and Perfect

Weather.com Paris coverage
Weather.com devoted its entire home page to illustrating the threats that climate change poses.

Screenshot/The Weather Channel

When Donald Trump announced Thursday that the United States would pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, plenty of media outlets had their coverage ready. But nobody was quite as ready as Weather.com.

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate’s senior technology writer. Email him at will.oremus@slate.com or follow him on Twitter.

As you can see in the screenshot above, the Weather Channel’s home page greeted the news with every ounce of righteous outrage it deserved. Its top nine stories—the whole page, on a normal-size screen—were all devoted to the topic. Two of them covered Trump’s announcement. The other seven methodically explained, in words, pictures, and hard data, exactly why it was so misguided, and why it matters so much.

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On cable TV, the Weather Channel itself treated the news with similar gravity, if rather less drama, breaking from its regular programming to offer in-depth coverage and analysis of the climate news. Contrast that with the coverage on Fox News, which trotted out such noted climate experts as former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and Rep. Mike Lee of Utah to pooh-pooh the Paris Agreement and downplay the threat that global warming poses.

In case you were wondering, this is not out of character for the Weather Channel. My former colleague Eric Holthaus chronicled its gradual embrace of data and climate science in recent years, highlighted by a 2015 series of original short videos aimed at persuading conservatives to take the issue seriously.

As Holthaus pointed out, the Weather Channel is hardly a bastion of left-wing activism: It’s based in Atlanta and caters to an older, conservative-leaning audience. But the network has concluded that climate change poses a threat that transcends partisan politics. Accordingly, its coverage on Thursday was not explicitly political. Rather, its stories illustrating the damage climate change is poised to wreak—and, in many cases, is already wreaking—amounted to a potent, science-based refutation of the notion that the threat is overstated, far-off, or hypothetical. They include a stirring feature on a doomed New Jersey wilderness; news stories on California’s already-receding coastline and the stunning, imminent crack-up of an Antarctic ice sheet; and an analysis of how the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Agreement is likely to worsen all of these problems and more.*

Don’t believe we need urgent action on climate change? Do your children and grandchildren a favor. Turn off Fox News, and go read the top stories on Weather.com right now.

*Correction, June 8, 2017: This post originally misstated that the Pine Barrens are in New England. They’re in New Jersey.

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