Corporate Climate Coverage a Washout after Storm Ciarán Impacts Tuscany

by Vins
Published: Updated:

The historic tourist region of Tuscany in central Italy is world-famous for food and wine, agrarian scenery, Renaissance art and architecture (including the Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, Michelangelo’s David), and its perfect Mediterranean climate. In October-November 2023, however, Tuscany was in the news for torrential, hundred-year rains that killed eight people, and forced hundreds of residents from their homes. and threatened to flood the cultural capital of Florence, a possibility that alarmed the West like nothing since the 2019 fire at Notre-Dame de Paris. In a report for Inside Climate News that compared Storm Ciarán with Mexico’s Hurricane Otis, Kristoffer Tigue described “a growing body of evidence” on climate disasters in “unexpected places where such severe weather was thought to be rare.”

Storm Ciarán, which wreaked havoc on Europe as far west as the Channel Islands, also impacted Tuscany with a 122-mph wind gust, as well as roof and tree damage from an F1 tornado. To illustrate the devastation, NASA’s Earth Observatory posted satellite photos from November 3rd  that compared flooded Tuscany to a month before.

Climate change, and in particular a warming ocean, will continue to fuel storms like Ciarán, to the extent that they won’t even qualify as “historic” anymore. As always, however, this fact was nearly buried in corporate weather-disaster coverage of the Tuscan floods.

A Reuters report in The Guardian, for example, relegated it to an unsourced, passive construction in the tenth of 10 paragraphs: “Italy is seen as particularly exposed to the effects of climate change.” The New York Times, meanwhile, sought to distance itself from its decision to mention the C-word even in the 11th of 11 paragraphs: “Although it is difficult to attribute individual weather events directly to climate change, scientists say that a warming planet worsens extreme rainfall in many storms.” The Times reporter’s first name, ironically, was Gaia.

Source: Kristoffer Tigue, “Similar to Mexico’s Hurricane Otis, Storm Ciarán Took Europe by Surprise,” Inside Climate News, November 3, 2023.

Student Researcher: Megan Knox (Frostburg State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Andy Duncan (Frostburg State University)