4.9 Climate change and extreme weather

Disasters cause death, loss of property and infrastructure, long term health problems and economic and social disruption, including homelessness and displacement. They break dramatically into the routine of everyday life, so it is not surprising that they rank highly in news selection.

When disasters or serious accidents happen, they often turn into media events and inspire a large amount of coverage. They produce opportunities for dramatic visual imagery and compelling storytelling. They lend themselves to narratives of suspense, prediction and recovery. In the aftermath, attention is more likely to turn to cause and prevention.

Journalism tends to deal more easily with the present and short term time frames rather than future developments. Communicating and grasping the long term impact of loss of biodiversity, acidification of oceans or ice shrinkage can be difficult. However, people are more likely to accept the significance of climate change if they believe it will have, or already has had, devastating effects on their own lives or the lives of people with whom they identify.

To what extent a particular disaster is reported by the media tends to reflect its geographic and cultural proximity and available visual material. It has often been noted that a single life lost in a disaster close to home will be reported while thousands of deaths in developing countries barely rate a mention (Bacon W. & Nash, C.J., 2003).

Studies on the reporting of humanitarian crises have shown that humanitarian crises involving conflict are most likely to be covered by Western media. However, providing the media has access or compelling images, major natural disasters in developing countries are more likely to get covered than other international stories that do not involve conflict. For example in 2000, major floods in Mozambique had been ignored by the international media until the image of a woman giving birth in a tree was captured by a freelance photographer. After the photo was distributed around the world by Reuters, the flood story became the third biggest story in a six month period of humanitarian coverage in Australia media (Bacon, W. & Nash, C.J., 2004).

Therefore while local disasters are more likely to get reported than distant ones, international disasters, such as bushfires, triggered by environmental change are nevertheless more likely to get reported than other longer term environmental issues such as acidification of oceans or impact of loss of species.

For these reasons, the link between extreme weather and climate change is likely to be high on the climate change reporting agenda. It is also because an acceptance that global warming will lead to more disasters will build public concern that climate skeptics strenuously resist the assertion that a link exists.

Evidence Linking Extreme Weather and Climate Change

An extreme weather or climate event is defined as occurring when a value of a weather or climate variable (e.g temperature) is above or below a threshold value near the upper or lower ends of the observed values of the variable. These events are usually referred to as ‘climate extremes’. Establishing a possible link between climate change and extreme weather events is complex.

In August 2013, The Guardian published a Q and A about the link between extreme weather and climate change. The author noted:

“Shifts in the number, severity and location of extreme weather events are among the most important impacts of climate change. Basic physics suggest that global warming should affect the occurrence of extreme weather. More energy is being added to the atmosphere, and as it warms, it can hold more water vapour. On this basis alone, cold weather events should decline, heatwaves should increase, and there should be changes in the intensity and frequency of the dry and wet periods that cause droughts and floods.”

However, as the author goes on to argue, the global climate is complex with variability, “including El Niño and La Niña events, as well as important local and regional variations, making it difficult to separate out human influence on extreme weather events from other factors”.

Natural disasters are infrequent, so by definition, trends over time are hard to establish. It is also not possible to attribute individual weather events to climate change, although it is possible to speak about the likelihood that they are linked with climate change.

A recent review by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2012) of scientific research on extreme weather concluded that it is “virtually certain” that the number of extreme cold days around the world is decreasing, while the “frequency and magnitude” of warm daily temperature extremes will increase during the 21st century. It is likely that frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls will also increase. Global sea level is also rising by more than 3 mm per year, which means it is likely that surges that are generated by storms over large bodies of water are becoming higher.

The IPCC (2012) report also stated that uncertainty remains about the extent to which climate change may already be affecting some other types of extreme weather events, such as tropical cyclones and tornadoes. An incomplete understanding of the physical metrics associated with tropical cyclones and the degree of tropical cyclone variability make this a difficult field of research. The report found that the “average tropical cyclone” maximum wind speed is likely to increase, although the increase may not occur in all ocean basins. It is also likely that the frequency of cyclones on a global level will decrease or remain unchanged.

There is “medium confidence” that droughts will intensify in the 21st century in some seasons and areas, including in central Europe, the Mediterranean, central North America, Southern Africa and Brazil.

The report notes that “attribution of single extreme events to anthropogenic climate change is challenging.” (It does not conclude it is not possible).

As the IPCC (2012) report shows, levels of risk and certainty vary across climate variables and in different regions of the world. This makes it difficult for reporters, editors and sources who are expected to summarise information accurately and succinctly. However, the report also has information about specific findings for particular regions. Since many journalists tend to report in individual locations, rather than do general global reports, they will find it worthwhile to delve more deeply into reports to find the more detailed findings.

The IPCC (2012) summary provides a table explaining terms which are used to describe available evidence: limited, medium, or robust; and for the degree of agreement: low, medium or high. A level of confidence is expressed using five qualifiers: very low, medium, high and very high (p.19). This is useful guide for those who aim to accurately communicate climate change and avoid exaggerating or downplaying evidence. A video also provides a useful introduction to the report, emphasising the possibilities for action to decrease disasters, loss and vulnerability.

The 2012 report concluded with high confidence that “exposure and vulnerability are dynamic” and varying across time, space and depending on economic, social and institutional factors. It found with “high agreement” based on “robust evidence” that inequalities influence local coping and adaptive capacity. Developed countries are often better equipped to respond. There is medium agreement amongst scientists that some areas will become marginal as places to live, causing permanent dislocation and creating new pressures on migration. Many residents may have to relocate from atolls.

Many of the more vulnerable regions are those that also tend to be ignored by Australian and other Western English speaking media.

How did Australian Publications Respond to the IPCC Report?

On March 28 2012, the IPCC issued a press release [134 kb PDF] about the report. The Australian Climate Commission also issued a press release explaining the relevance of the report for Australia. The Age, SMH and The Courier Mail published stories about the report and the ABC’s Lateline program did as well. The independent university based publication The Conversation published three stories referring to the report and independent online daily Crikey published a piece on March 30, 2012 by John Connor CEO of the Climate Institute that began:

“Recent reports link current human and economic suffering to climate change occurring now and project much more if we fail efforts on mitigation and adaptation…Whether it is cavalier ignorance, reckless indifference or subconscious refusal to engage, it’d been a couple of weeks where the failure to even take a conservative risk management approach to the climate data is again infuriating, intriguing or downright sad.

This was brought into stark reality by reports from the CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the World Meteorological Organisation, experts in the peer reviewed Nature Climate Change and by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)...

Scientists are speaking with growing confidence and alarm about recent unprecedented extreme weather events around the world. Australia’s recent extremes of droughts, fires, cyclones and floods occur against this clarifying backdrop providing a chilling insight into the future that is almost certainly in store for us.”

Apart from The Courier Mail, the rest of the News Corp publications failed to report on the substance of the report.

On March 29, 2011, the ABC’s environmental reporter Conor Duffy broadcasted a story on World Today based on an interview with the right wing Insitute of Public Affairs’s climate change spokesperson Tim Wilson about a tip sheet sent out by the Global Campaign for Climate Action to its many members suggesting ways they could maximise their efforts to publicise the IPCC. The GCCA suggested that even low certainty findings of increased disasters could be represented as ‘cause for alarm’. While this is an arguable position, it led Wilson to tell the ABC:

TIM WILSON: “I think it’s disappointing that there are so many groups that claim to support and be concerned about the environment who are prepared to manipulate science to achieve their political objectives rather than talking about hard facts and what policy we should do in response.

CONOR DUFFY: Do you think it does the issue of climate change harm to have people over egging findings?

TIM WILSON: It does extreme damage to the credibility of the scientific community and climate science when we have groups out there like these environmental groups over-blowing it.*”

The Australian’s response to the IPPC report

During February 2012, before the IPCC issued its extreme weather report, The Australian had published two articles which discussed the IPCC. The first on February 7, headlined ‘Scientific research drowning in a sea of alarmism’, which was a comment piece by Bob Carter, was a scathing attack on the IPCC as being ‘alarmist’. A second article on February 10, headlined ‘Highest peaks have cut no ice in past 10 years’, focused on a peer reviewed research article in the journal Nature. The article is analysed as Example Five in Section 4.8 How The Australian builds doubt about climate scientists and their findings. Written by The Australians’ environmental editor Graham Lloyd, the article placed the research in the context of earlier predictions of Himalayan ice shrinkage that the IPCC had acknowledged to be wrong. The story quoted glaciologist Professor Jonathan Bamber, director of the Bristol Glaciology Centre, as saying that despite the unexpected findings, "People should be just as worried about the melting of the world’s ice as they were before.” The story also reported that earlier studies could have been ‘biased’ because researchers focussed on glaciers that were easier to access.

In April 2012, Professor Bamber wrote a piece for The Guardian arguing that despite regional variations, such variations “should not, however, distract from the broader and more important story unfolding, which is one of profound and likely irreversible changes to global land and sea ice cover”.

A more detailed account of the different ways this glacier research was reported in the international media can be found at carbonbrief.com. A Factiva search could only find one The Australian article on glacier shrinkage since 2012 and this also highlighted a Greenland finding that suggested sea level rise due to glacial melt might not be as high as predicted. The Australian failed to follow up when the scientist responsible for that finding published a background paper which concluded that scientists can now make more accurate projections,“the bad news is warmer air, faster flow, and break off of glaciers into the ocean will increase surface melting and contribute significantly to sea level rise.”

Despite these earlier negative reports about the IPPC, The Australian failed to publish a report summarising the 2012 IPCC report on extreme weather but instead took up the Tim Wilson allegations two days after they were broadcast on the ABC. Under the headline ‘Global campaign for climate action pushing spin’ The Australian’s environmental editor Graham Lloyd lead with the statement:

“A GLOBAL lobby group has distributed a “spin sheet" encouraging its 300 member organisations to emphasise the link between climate change and extreme weather events, despite uncertainties acknowledged by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

Lloyd continued the report by quoting the accusations of Tim Wilson. At the end of the report, he quoted Climate Change Commissioner Professor Will Steffen as saying that the report “showed for the first time the fingerprints of the human-driven warming in some of the extreme events already experienced. ‘ This is an early warning sign that if we don’t get this underlying warming trend under control there’s going to be a lot more heat waves, droughts and intense rainfall events.’ ” The report also quoted John Connor of the Climate Institute as saying that the evidence between extreme weather and climate change was growing.

This is a good example of how a journalist can construct a news story to build uncertainty and confusion around the issue of climate change while at the same time adding material as ‘balance’. Lloyd’s report was constructed in a way that obscured and downplayed the strength of the key findings of the report, especially the importance of planning for risk mitigation. The article failed to explain that low certainty about particular types of evidence does not mean there is no cause for concern or action.

Later the GCCA refuted Wilson’s accusations and Duffy’s report. It continues to argue that its assertion that even low levels of scientific certainty can be a cause for alarm. This does not appear to have been reported in Australia, but is available on the internet.

Climate change and extreme weather: February to April, 2011 & 2012.

2011 in Australia began with major floods in Queensland and Victoria as well as Cyclone Yasi, which hit the coast on February 3, 2011 causing major damage in Northern Queensland.

This report found a substantial proportion of articles (227) linked climate change and extreme weather, with 38% of all articles (602) mentioning extreme weather. There was a higher proportion (43%) in 2011 than in 2012 (31%). This is not surprising given the extreme weather events in early 2011.

The Herald Sun had the highest proportion of its articles (51%) that linked extreme weather and climate change. This meant that only 24 Herald Sun articles over the two three month periods that referenced climate science did not mention extreme weather.

45% of articles in both The Australian and The Age referenced both extreme weather and climate science compared to 36% in the SMH.

Figure 4.9.1: Did articles published in 10 Australian newspapers from Feb. - Apr. 2011 & 2012 referring to climate science also refer to extreme weather?
Newspaper No (2011) Yes (2011) 2011 total No (2012) Yes (2012) 2012 total No (total) Yes (total) Grand total
The Advertiser 16 (64%) 9 (36%) 25 (100%) 20 (80%) 5 (20%) 25 (100%) 36 (72%) 14 (28%) 50 (100%)
The Age 17 (44%) 22 (56%) 39 (100%) 22 (69%) 10 (31%) 32 (100%) 39 (55%) 32 (45%) 71 (100%)
The Australian 45 (57%) 34 (43%) 79 (100%) 33 (52%) 31 (48%) 64 (100%) 78 (55%) 65 (45%) 71 (100%)
The Courier Mail 15 (54%) 13 (46%) 28 (100%) 19 (76%) 6 (24%) 25 (100%) 34 (64%) 19 (36%) 53 (100%)
The Daily Telegraph 20 (67%) 10 (33%) 30 (100%) 26 (74%) 9 (26%) 35 (100%) 46 (71%) 19 (29%) 65 (100%)
Herald Sun 12 (36%) 21 (64%) 33 (100%) 12 (75%) 4 (25%) 16 (100%) 24 (49%) 25 (51%) 49 (100%)
The Mercury 15 (65%) 8 (35%) 23 (100%) 12 (92%) 1 (8%) 13 (100%) 27 (75%) 9 (25%) 36 (100%)
The Northern Territory News 6 (75%) 2 (25%) 8 (100%) 10 (91%) 1 (9%) 11 (100%) 16 (84%) 3 (16%) 19 (100%)
Sydney Morning Herald 32 (63%) 19 (37%) 51 (100%) 27 (66%) 14 (34%) 41 (100%) 59 (64%) 33 (36%) 92 (100%)
The West Australian 10 (63%) 6 (38%) 16 (100%) 6 (75%) 2 (25%) 41 (100%) 16 (67%) 8 (33%) 24 (100%)
Total 188 (57%) 144 (43%) 332 (100%) 187 (69%) 83 (31%) 270 (100%) 375 (62%) 227 (38%) 602 (100%)

Download data as .csv or view on GitHub

As noted in section 4.3, 244 or 41% of the 602 articles in the entire sample were news articles. Figure 4.9.2 shows that 38% of these were linked to extreme weather. Again there is variation between publications including those owned by News Corp. The Herald Sun, which published the lowest proportion (27%) of its articles in the news genre, mentioned extreme weather in 62% (8) of those reports. On the other hand, The Courier Mail, which published the highest proportion of news (66%) out of the ten publications, mentioned extreme weather in only 37% of these reports. These findings suggest that during this period, The Courier Mail had not only more news about climate change than the Herald Sun, but more diverse news coverage as well.

Figure 4.9.2: Did news articles published in 10 Australian newspapers from Feb. - Apr. 2011 & 2012 referring to climate science also refer to extreme weather?
Newspaper No (2011) Yes (2011) 2011 total No (2012) Yes (2012) 2012 total No (total) Yes (total) Grand total
The Advertiser 4 (40%) 6 (60%) 10 (100%) 15 (88%) 2 (12%) 17 (100%) 19 (70%) 8 (30%) 27 (100%)
The Age 3 (27%) 8 (73%) 11 (100%) 13 (72%) 5 (28%) 18 (100%) 16 (55%) 13 (45%) 29 (100%)
The Australian 14 (74%) 5 (26%) 19 (100%) 13 (52%) 12 (48%) 25 (100%) 27 (61%) 17 (39%) 44 (100%)
The Courier Mail 9 (50%) 9 (50%) 18 (100%) 13 (76%) 4 (24%) 17 (100%) 22 (63%) 13 (37%) 35 (100%)
The Daily Telegraph 4 (44%) 5 (56%) 9 (100%) 7 (64%) 4 (36%) 11 (100%) 11 (55%) 9 (45%) 20 (100%)
Herald Sun 3 (33%) 6 (67%) 9 (100%) 2 (50%) 2 (50%) 4 (100%) 5 (38%) 8 (62%) 13 (100%)
The Mercury 8 (62%) 5 (38%) 13 (100%) 5 (100%) 0 (0%) 5 (100%) 13 (72%) 5 (5%) 18 (100%)
The Northern Territory News 2 (50%) 2 (50%) 4 (100%) 6 (100%) 0 (0%) 6 (100%) 8 (80%) 2 (20%) 10 (100%)
Sydney Morning Herald 7 (78%) 2 (22%) 9 (100%) 15 (60%) 10 (40%) 25 (100%) 22 (65%) 12 (35%) 34 (100%)
The West Australian 3 (38%) 5 (63%) 8 (100%) 5 (83%) 1 (17%) 6 (100%) 8 (57%) 6 (43%) 14 (100%)
Total 57 (52%) 43 (48%) 110 (100%) 94 (70%) 40 (30%) 134 (100%) 151 (62%) 93 (38%) 244 (100%)

Download data as .csv or view on GitHub

Figure 4.9.3 shows a breakdown of the articles linking extreme weather according to whether they were coded as accepting, rejecting or suggesting doubt about the consensus position on anthropogenic climate science. (The results of this coding have already been discussed in section 4.6). The findings show that more half of articles mentioning extreme weather in The Australian, the Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph rejected or suggested doubt about the consensus position on climate science. So while the scientific evidence of a link between extreme weather and climate science builds, these publications continue to promote doubt about whether there is an anthropogenic link with climate change and the seriousness of the problem. It would not be surprising therefore that unlike the scientists who produced the IPCC (2012) report, many readers might conclude that action on climate change should not be high on the political policy agenda.

It should be noted that The West Australian (in which the 8 articles out of 24 mentioned extreme weather and climate change) accepted the consensus position in their reporting of climate change and extreme weather and did not replicate this production of doubt about a link existing between them.

Figure 4.9.3: Did articles published across 10 Australian newspapers from Feb. - Apr. 2011 & 2012, linking climate science and extreme weather, communicate acceptance, suggest doubt or reject the consensus position on climate science?
Newspaper Rejects (2011) Suggests doubt (2011) Accepts (2011) Unable to discern (2011) 2011 total Rejects (2012) Suggests doubt (2012) Accepts (2012) Unable to discern (2012) 2012 total Rejects (total) Suggests doubt (total) Accepts (total) Unable to discern (total) Grand total
The Advertiser 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 9 (100%) 0 (0%) 9 (100%) 2 (40%) 0 (0%) 3 (60%) 0 (0%) 5 (100%) 2 (14%) 0 (0%) 12 (86%) 0 (0%) 14 (100%)
The Age 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 21 (95%) 1 (5%) 22 (100%) 0 (0%) 1 (10%) 9 (90%) 0 (0%) 10 (100%) 0 (0%) 1 (3%) 30 (94%) 1 (3%) 32 (100%)
The Australian 1 (3%) 15 (44%) 17 (50%) 1 (3%) 34 (100%) 3 (10%) 14 (45%) 14 (45%) 0 (0%) 31 (100%) 4 (6%) 29 (45%) 31 (48%) 1 (2%) 65 (100%)
The Courier Mail 0 (0%) 1 (8%) 12 (92%) 0 (0%) 13 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 6 (100%) 0 (0%) 6 (100%) 0 (0%) 1 (5%) 18 (95%) 0 (0%) 19 (100%)
The Daily Telegraph 2 (20%) 2 (20%) 6 (60%) 0 (0%) 10 (100%) 4 (44%) 2 (22%) 3 (33%) 0 (0%) 9 (100%) 6 (32%) 4 (21%) 9 (47%) 0 (0%) 19 (100%)
Herald Sun 9 (43%) 4 (19%) 7 (33%) 1 (5%) 21 (100%) 1 (25%) 1 (25%) 2 (50%) 0 (0%) 4 (100%) 10 (40%) 5 (20%) 9 (36%) 1 (4%) 25 (100%)
The Mercury 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 8 (100%) 0 (0%) 8 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (100%) 0 (0%) 1 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 9 (100%) 0 (0%) 9 (100%)
The Northern Territory News 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 2 (100%) 0 (0%) 2 (100%) 1 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 1 (100%) 1 (33%) 0 (0%) 2 (67%) 0 (0%) 3 (100%)
Sydney Morning Herald 0 (0%) 3 (16%) 16 (84%) 0 (0%) 19 (100%) 0 (0%) 1 (7%) 13 (93%) 0 (0%) 14 (100%) 0 (0%) 4 (12%) 29 (88%) 0 (0%) 33 (100%)
The West Australian 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 6 (100%) 0 (0%) 6 (100%) 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 2 (100%) 0 (0%) 2 (100%) 0 (0%) 4 (12%) 29 (88%) 0 (0%) 33 (100%)
Total 12 (8%) 25 (17%) 104 (72%) 3 (2%) 144 (100%) 11 (13%) 19 (23%) 53 (64%) 0 (0%) 83 (100%) 23 (10%) 44 (19%) 157 (69%) 3 (1%) 227 (100%)

Download data as .csv or view on GitHub

Climate change and single extreme weather events

Politicians and campaigners occasionally imply that a particular extreme weather event can be linked to climate change. However, it is currently not possible to link specific events to climate change and the IPCC has found that it is likely to remain ‘challenging’ to do so in the foreseeable future. (IPCC,2013)

On Feburary 1, 2011, the ABC published a comment by Senator Christine Milne that Cyclone Yasi was a “tragedy of climate change” and that “scientists have been saying that we are going to experience more extreme weather events, that their intensity is going to increase, their frequency”. This comment was further reported in the Herald Sun on February 5, 2011 under the heading ‘Cyclone saw alarmists beat their drum’; it was an attack on the “deceitful” Greens party and others who had linked the Cyclone with climate change as a “gibbering horde” who were “shrieking”.

Three days later, Piers Akerman took up the issue with a further attack on the ‘fear mongering’ Christine Milne in The Daily Telegraph under the heading,’Inability to read winds of change’. This piece was also published in The Mercury under the heading, ‘Greens face inconvenient truth’. Akerman also attacked journalists who asked climate change action advocates questions about whether Cyclone Yasi could be linked to climate change. He referred to the ABC Broadcaster Deborah Cameron’s “ideological barrow”, Al Gore’s “inconvenient falsehoods” and certain sources as being responsible for “global warming hysteria”.

Milne's remarks may have been open to the interpretation that this specific cyclone was caused by climate change. It also needs to be acknowledged however that while a direct causal link cannot be established, the Australian Climate Commission continued to refer to Cyclone Yasi and the Queensland floods as the types of weather events that will increase with climate change. Milne correctly said that extreme weather events would increase in intensity, but then added the word frequency as well. She did not say that cyclones will increase in frequency. Current scientific evidence shows that there is a likelihood that cyclones will increase in intensity in Queensland but may become less frequent.

In his attack piece, Piers Akerman reported research that suggests cyclones are likely to become less frequent in some parts of the world but excluded mention of other evidence suggesting that cyclones may also become more intense and that severe storms may move further towards the poles

This example demonstrates how sources supporting climate change action need to take extreme care in statements about climate change. When they make minor errors or overstate their case, they leave themselves open to reasonable criticism. Any errors or lack of clarity will be seized upon by climate sceptics to further undermine public acceptance of the climate science consensus position.

The issue of uncertainty is particularly tricky, because scientists are always going to be more certain about some aspects of climate science than others.Those who aggressively seize on such comments, such as that made by Milne at the time of Cyclone Yasi, are more interested in obscuring facts than clarifying them. This is demonstrated by the ‘got-cha’ tone of sceptic commentators’ attacks, which are designed to meet their overall goal of undermining the consensus position on climate science. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of attack journalism is that sources, especially scientists become wary of speaking in case what they intend to say is distorted or they make a slip. Journalism that sought to establish the truth would be encouraging open discussion rather than an atmosphere of intimidation.


A substantial amount of Australian climate change coverage is linked to extreme weather events. This is not surprising given the dire immediate consequences of environmental disasters such as floods, fire and cyclones. This finding does not mean that climate change is dominating the reporting of disasters. It is more likely that stories about extreme weather events only occasionally mention climate change. Further research is needed to establish how climate change is being reported in the broader context of disaster reporting in Australia.

More dramatic extreme events such as fires and floods are likely to get more coverage than longer term, more subtle trends. There is a range of longer term climate science research issues that journalists need to cover including drought, increasing heat, impact on biodiversity including marine life, acidification of oceans, loss of ice near the Northern and Southern Poles, impact on food security and migration, and loss of land as well as floods and storms. These have had very little coverage during the two three-month periods. It is likely that the application of news values that tend to favour dramatic images and sudden crises will continue to push these aspects of climate change off the news agenda. As a consequence, these will remain hidden or misunderstood by many audiences. Further research needs to be done to establish to what extent this is the case.

In this study, we did not compare the amount of coverage of international extreme weather events with domestic ones. However we can confidently find that the great majority of articles linking extreme weather and climate change focused on the Australian context. This again fits with general patterns of Australian news coverage, which tend to ignore events in large parts of the globe. This means that most Australian audiences are receiving very little information about the impacts of climate change outside Australia (Chubb, I., & Bacon, W., 2003; Bacon, W., & Nash, C.J., 2003).

Our findings establish that there is a substantial amount of Australia media coverage that does link the topics of climate change to extreme weather, although not necessarily in ways that accept that increased global warming will lead to more extreme weather events. This does not mean that discussion of climate change plays a big role in coverage of disasters. (A different research project would be needed to establish that.)