The Fourth Estate’s failure to address the clearest and most present danger of the century continues, enabling the failure of politicians in turn – they’d be as well serving us all up grilled with fava beans and a nice glass of Chianti.
Widespread drought, Superstorm Sandy, and a melting ice cap failed to revive the media’s interest in climate change in 2012, with worldwide coverage continuing its three-year slide, according to a media database maintained by the nonprofit journalism site The Daily Climate.
The decline in the number of stories published on the topic – 2.4 percent fewer than 2011 – was the smallest since the United Nations climate talks collapsed in Copenhagen in 2009.
Coverage of climate impacts – extreme weather, melting glaciers and Arctic ice, warming temperatures and more – dominated climate news, accounting for almost one of every three stories written on the topic in 2012. That is the highest proportion in the five years that the website has been tracking coverage.
…Last year 7,194 reporters and commentators filed 18,546 stories, compared to 7,166 reporters who filed 18,995 stories in 2011, according to The Daily Climate.
The numbers remain far from 2009′s peak, when roughly 11,000 reporters and commentators published 32,400 items on climate change, based on the news site’s archive.
Bill McKibben’s empassioned plea this week is worth a read in full. He has this to say about Obama’s stance on climate change, one that is enabled by the mainstream media’s ignoring the issue.
Only at the very end of the campaign, when Hurricane Sandy seemed to present a political opening, did he even hint at seizing it — his people letting reporters know on background that climate change would now be one of his top three priorities (or maybe, post-Newtown, top four) for a second term. That’s a start, I suppose, but it’s a long way from telling the car companies they better retool to start churning out wind turbines.
And anyway, he took it back at the first opportunity. At his post-election press conference, he announced that climate change was “real,” thus marking his agreement with, say, President George H.W. Bush in 1988. In deference to “future generations,” he also agreed that we should “do more.” But addressing climate change, he added, would involve “tough political choices.” Indeed, too tough, it seems, for here were his key lines:
“I think the American people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth, that if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody is going to go for that. I won’t go for that.”
It’s as if World War II British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had declared, “I have nothing to offer except blood, toil, tears, and sweat. And God knows that polls badly, so just forget about it.”
The utter disaster that is coming is not going to happen this news cycle or this election cycle, so we can safely ignore it until it does, and anyways we ourselves will probably be minimally affected because we’re rich in a rich land. That’s a dangerous mindset, but it’s the mindset of the bulk of our leadership and opinionmakers.