The climate emergency is under-reported

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Sign depicting School Strikes for Climate instigator Greta Thunberg, Stockholm, Sweden, 24 May (Screenshot via YouTube)

Only immediate climate action can save the future. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.

AT AN April 30 conference entitled 'Covering Climate Now', Bill Moyers made a speech which included the following remarks:

I have been asked to bring this gathering to a close by summing up how we can do better at covering the possible "collapse of our civilisation and extinction of much of the natural world", to quote the noted environmentalist David Attenborough, speaking at the recent United Nations climate summit in Poland...



Many of us have recognised that our coverage of global warming has fallen short. There's been some excellent reporting by independent journalists and by enterprising reporters and photographers from legacy newspapers and other news outlets. But the goliaths of the U.S. news media, those with the biggest amplifiers – the corporate broadcast networks – have been shamelessly AWOL. Despite their extraordinary profits, the combined coverage of the three major networks and Fox fell from just 260 minutes in 2017 to a mere 142 minutes in 2018, a drop of 45 per cent, reported by the watchdog group, Media Matters.

The Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules

Network administrators have noticed that programs about climate change often have low viewer ratings. Since they see delivering high viewer ratings to their advertisers as their primary duty, these executives seldom allow programs dealing with the dangers of catastrophic climate change. The duty to save the Earth from environmental catastrophe is neglected for the sake of money.

As Al Gore said,

“The well-informed citizenry is in danger of becoming the well-amused audience.”

Worldwide student strikes under-reported

On Friday, 15 March 2019, over 1.4 million students on all continents took to the streets for the first ever global climate strike. Messages in more than 40 languages were loud and clear — world leaders must act now to address the climate crisis and save our future. The school strikes have been the largest organised climate action in history. Nevertheless, these went almost unmentioned in the media.

On Friday, May 24, massive student strikes advocating rapid climate action again took place, this time in an expected 1,351 separate locations all over the world. Again the historic and highly important event was under-reported by mainstream media. In fact, on the CNN and BBC World News broadcasts that I watched on Friday evening, the worldwide student strikes for climate action were not reported at all.

Some outstanding exceptions

There are exceptions to the general rule that the mass media downplay or completely ignore the climate emergency. The Guardian has provided considerable coverage of all issues related to climate change. 

The National Geographic Television Channel has several times shown Leonardo Di Caprio's important film, 'Before the Flood'.

In general, however, it is necessary to seek alternative coverage on this important topic, such as this publication, which has provided comprehensive coverage on this important issue since its inception as well as the recent the school strikes

John Scales Avery is a theoretical chemist at the University of Copenhagen. Since 1990, he has been the chairman of the Danish National Group of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (Nobel Peace Prize winner, 1995). His book, 'We Need an Ecological Revolution', can be accessed here. Other writings and books are available here.

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