OPINION

Mainstream under-reporting of the climate crisis

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

By John Scales Avery

A speech by Bill Moyers

At an April 30 conference entitled “Covering Climate Now”, co-sponsored by The Nation and Colombia Journalism Review, 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 civilization and extinction of much of the natural world’, to quote the noted environmentalist David Attenborough, speaking at the recent Unites Nations climate summit in Poland…

“Many of us have recognized 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 US 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 percent, 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 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 catstrophe is neglected for the sake on money. As Al Gore said, “Instead of having a well-informed electorate, we have a well-amused audience”.

World-wide student strikes under-reported

On Friday, March 15, 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 strike was the largest climate action in history. Nevertheless, it 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 is a newspaper with absolutely superb coverahe of all issues related to climate change. No praise can be high enough for the courageous environmental editorial policy of this famous old British newspaper. Here is a link to The Guardian’s report of the May 24 school strikes for climate action.

One can also mention that the National Geographic Television Channel has several times shown Leonardo DiCaprio’s important film, “Before the Flood”. 

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John Scales Avery

John Scales Avery, PhD is a theoretical chemist noted for his research publications in quantum chemistry, thermodynamics, evolution, and history of science. Since the early 1990s, Avery has been an active World peace activist. During these years, he was part of a group associated with the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. Presently, he is an Associate Professor Emeritus in quantum chemistry at the University of Copenhagen. His 2003 book Information Theory and Evolution set forth the view that the phenomenon of life, including its origin and evolution, that including human cultural evolution, has it background situated over thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, and information theory.

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