Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Too many emergencies

So let's focus on the biggest one. This is a long essay but you are hereby commanded to read it. Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation are jointly sponsoring a conference on April 30 on media coverage of climate change. This by Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope sets the stage.

[A] at a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news, the brutal demands of ratings and money work against adequate coverage of the biggest story of our time. Many newspapers, too, are failing the climate test. Last October, the scientists of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report, warning that humanity had a mere 12 years to radically slash greenhouse-gas emissions or face a calamitous future in which hundreds of millions of people worldwide would go hungry or homeless or worse. Only 22 of the 50 biggest newspapers in the United States covered that report.
At least now they're merely ignoring it. For decades they treated the reality of climate change as a controversy, and were compelled to bring in a denier (usually secretly funded by the fossil fuel industry) as "balance" for every story. The moderators did not ask about climate change in a single presidential debate in the last 3 elections.  Even as Houston and the Carolinas and Puerto Rico and the Florida panhandle were smashed by hurricanes, as the west burns and the Midwest drowns, these events are treated as isolated weather incidents.

The truth is a downer, and it's bad for ratings. But again, you are hereby commanded to read.

Update: Not only have all the dire predictions come true, it's been even worse than predicted, and sooner. That's truth, not opinion.


Dr Porkenheimer said...

My argument is the reason why global warming gets no attention in the media today, not about the science.

Those that made the wild catastrophic predictions that didn't materialize, the crazies, are the ones I was talking about. Those that took climate from science to politics. Those are the ones who have given the world "climate fear fatigue".

Al Gore might be one of them.

Another might be Stephen Schneider of Stanford University:

"We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have,” Stephen Schneider, a professor of Biology at Stanford University, said to Discover magazine in 1989. “Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

I think you have found your balance.

Don Quixote said...

Again, as a child I visited the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, and I wondered--as a fairly bright 12-year-old--why on Earth were these displays available, showing appreciable global temperature rise, and why weren't we doing anything about it?

So the knowledge has been out there for a real long time. Helen Caldicott warned us about it several decades ago; and Exxon, of course, changed its tune in the 70s after initially funding research to study the problem, and began to release disinformation instead of information.

I was just thinking about this tonight as I listened to NPR and BBC, both superficial, toe-the-line news organizations: Why do we tolerate supreme court judges who have no character, and senators and congresspeople and a "president" who are the same? Why do we support pathological liars? Why do any of us believe that someone devoid of character--yes, you, Brett Rapist Kavanaugh, yes, you, Clarence "Long Dong Silver" Thomas, yes, you, Neil anti-labor-extraordinaire Gorsuch, Donald F. Shitler, and McConnell and Alito ... why do we think that ...

ANYTHING good will EVER come from liars devoid of character? It's a pertinent thought for today's blog. The corporate whitewash of climate change is a deliberate sin of omission by people who are obsessed with money and power. Which makes no sense, since without radical action, we'll all be dead from climate chage and you can't "enjoy" money and power if you're dead.

Capitalism in its most radical form is a cancer on the mind.

Cervantes said...

While Porkie's comment is reasonably stated, I do not exactly agree with it. The issue with the direst scenarios is not that they were exaggerated, it's that they focused too far out in the future. Al Gore talked about potential sea level rise in 2100. Some people thought he was presenting an unlikely scenario even for that date, but in fact right now it's looking much less far fetched. Nevertheless it is hard to get people to worry very much about events that seem that remote, long after they will be dead. I think the effects we are seeing now were not in fact thought likely to happen so soon, and people didn't want to get it wrong and give fodder to denialists. But the situation now, as it turns out, is already urgent. It's time for the corporate media to grasp that.

Don Quixote said...

It is so true that people have their attention--especially in the Murdoch-enabled era of constant titillation from the media of TV--focused for them, if they allow it, on not just the "news of the day" but, now, the minute-to-minute media-created "news." It's a similar phenomenon to people attaching their financial state to the price of gasoline, when there are so many other, greater financial costs in their lives.

It's a tall, but necessary, order to wake people up to the true perils facing them--not the "perils" presented to them on TV.