Climate Change and the Failure of Today’s Journalism

(Cross-posted with kind permission of Greenpeace Energy Desk)

What was the most important angle in the news coverage of Superstorm Sandy?

Was it – should it have been – the storm’s impact on the US presidential elections a week later?

Was it the number of human deaths – the usual measure of newsworthiness – or the personal stories of New Yorkers caught by the winds or the floods?

Or was it – should it have been – a much more profound message about the dramatic changes now underway in the Earth’s capacity for sustaining our present civilisation?

Businessweek got it right with its stark front page “It’s the Climate, Stupid”.

But most journalism about Sandy stayed with the old news clichés of individual human dramas. Within days, let’s be honest, the story was very quickly forgotten as attention switched to the Obama-Romney battle for the American presidency.

Thirty or fifty, maybe as little as five years from now, looking back at events like Superstorm Sandy, what will our children, and our grand- and great-grandchildren, be saying about how the world’s media covered climate change and sustainability in the first decade-and-a-bit of the 21st century?

I suspect they will not be very generous. Continue reading