Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the wall-to-wall news coverage that COVID-19 (rightfully) has received over the past two+ years. The rampaging virus has filled our lives, our jobs, and our news broadcasts with non-stop talk of deaths, infections, hospitalizations, and plans for how we will tackle the pandemic.
This makes sense. The virus is everywhere, affecting everyone (some more than others), and threatening our current and future ways of life.
But…so is climate change. We’re in the midst of simultaneous global ecological and climate crises. 2021 was filled with “extraordinary” events that have become ordinary. The latest IPCC report (14,000+ climate scientists work on this) released in August 2021 explained in no uncertain terms that only rapid and drastic reductions in greenhouse gases in this decade can prevent climate breakdown.
Hundreds of people died in 2021 because of rampant wildfires, city-destroying floods, and “unprecedented” strength storms. Climate refugees are being forced to flee their homes on the countryside into cities or other countries in record numbers, and These are becoming the new norm. This is the beginning. According to WaPo, 40% of Americans live in cities affected by a climate disaster in 2021. At this point, anybody not seeing the severity of the climate crisis has their head buried in the sand.
Speaking of burying heads in the sand, let’s see how some of the major news outlets are covering the climate crisis today, January 6, 2022:
In fact, for the Guardian, you have to scroll past the following sections, which are as large as the one above, before you arrive at their ‘climate crisis’ section (…but at least they have one, I guess?): Spotlight, Coronavirus, Opinion, Sport, Today in Focus, This is Europe, Documentaries. None of these sections even mentioned the climate crisis.
The New York Times
Whoa! A mention of climate! It’s about a house made of trash, but…that’s something right?
Look, I get it. The climate crisis is a mental health crisis as much as it is a physically existential one. But if we don’t talk about it, how are we going to address it? Like with COVID-19, the problem won’t go away just because we really, really want it to.
Right now, the only news coverage we can be sure we will receive on the climate crisis is when a storm extreme enough to be deemed “unprecedented” sets a new precedent, or when politicians decide yet again that the climate crisis isn’t important enough to set aside political differences.
The lack of coverage on the climate crisis is not only alarming; it is downright destructive. The climate crisis is affecting people across the planet. Those in the global south are suffering worse than those of us in the global north, even with all the fires, floods, storms, and crop failures we’re seeing, and they receive far less news coverage still.
It’s not enough.
We need to do better. We need to talk about it. We need to get other people talking about it. We need to make it as annoying to hear about the climate crisis as it has been to hear about Novak Djokovic’s visa being rejected. (See how I used different articles there? Every. major. news. outlet. covered. it.). It’s difficult to want to talk about something so depressing. Climate anxiety is a growing issue of its own; but in order to regain our agency and forge a path forward, we have to do better.
To wrap up, here is my list of go-tos for climate info, human-focused stories of lives affected by the climate crisis, and hard-hitting investigative journalism of companies and governments actively and maliciously perpetuating the climate crisis:
Heated – Fantastic high-quality accountability journalism for the climate crisis.
The Guardian – They might not have had the climate crisis up top, but their reporting is still high-quality, and unlike most other major news outlets, they are not beholden to a higher interest that skews their coverage.
Grist – Grist is a nonprofit, independent media organization dedicated to telling stories of climate solutions and a just future.