Anyone not already feeling terrified enough today at the news that North Korea has the bomb, should go and pick up a copy of The Independent, which has splashed on the front cover with the news that we are all heading for environmental Armageddon.
The story cites a report from a British think tank called the New Economics Foundation that claims today represents the day of the year when we start living beyond the Earth's environmental means. That is to say October 9th is the day when we move from environmental credit into debt and start overdrawing on the planet's natural resources.
Apparently this conclusion is based on figures from US academic group Global Footprints, which analysed 6,000 pieces of data to come to the conclusion that we are over using the Earth's resources by 23 percent each year.
The Independent offers no advice on what to do to tackle this problem, although the implication seems to be we should roll up in a ball in a darkened room, or preferably cave, until January 1st.
Stories and research like this may well be accurate and may even be necessary. But it is my feeling that we are reaching a point where more people should ask if it is helpful.
We've posted before on the Insititue for Public Policy Research's report on "climate porn" and the sense of despair it can create, and The Independent's latest story appears a prime example of this type of one sided reporting.
This is not to say that papers shouldn't report on the risks posed by climate change, just that they may prove more effective at helping to tackle the problem if they occasionally handed the front page over to a successful green initiative having a positive impact.
Several commentators have recently drawn the analogy between the fight to tackle climate change and warfare. Al Gore does this explicitly in his documentary An Inconvenient Truth quoting Churchill's pre-World War Two claim that "The time for procrastination and delays and excuses is over; we are into a period of consequences", and in so doing drawing a direct line between the threat to civilisation posed by Nazism and climate change.
It is an interesting analogy, and one that (if we accept) could have important consequences for the way the media reports climate change.
Throughout the Second World War, and several of the wars since, the media has generally adopted the position it thought would do the country the most good - not downplaying the scale of the threat, but at the same time trying to focus on positive stories that boost morale and stir people to action.
Times have of course changed, but if the fight against climate change is a Just War as many experts now believe, is there a need for more of the positive wartime reporting (propoganda for the cynics amongst you) that stops people slipping into despair and apathy?
It is unlikely this will ever happen given that papers are commercial organisations and bad news always sells better than good. But those corporate executives that are adopting green business models have a responsibility to do their utmost to get their message into the public arena and help instill people with the belief that there are positive steps that can still be taken to try and win the war on climate change.
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