Letters to the Editor: Why climate journalism needs to give readers a reason to hope
It’s been a tumultuous week, and I’m not referring to the United States of America as a whole.
But, as is typical with things such as climate change, there have been stories about it in the mainstream media that have made headlines and made a difference in people’s lives. In short: We’re not talking about some abstract and inconclusive phenomenon here. This kind of change has already taken place, and it’s happened in the West in response to climate change.
The recent wildfires in the U.S. that have hit parts of the Midwest and have spread to California aren’t just another story of unseasonable, random blazes. They’re the result of climate change, and that’s something that really should be widely known.
In fact, the only reason anyone could possibly be surprised about the fires is that they have gotten under the media’s collective skin (just like the recent wildfires in Chile) and have been given more and more coverage as the weeks have gone on. They’ve been treated as some kind of national crisis and, therefore, they should be. Yet, there’s a glaring omission in articles about this issue in the U.S. and even Australia by many mainstream journalists: climate change is real.
It’s now clear that, if we want to reduce our carbon emissions, we need to get serious about the issue. That, in itself, isn’t news. But, as the U.S. is the first major economy in the world to pass laws to reduce carbon emissions and as the U.S. leads the world in renewable energy, it’s not surprising that there’s a desire in the U.S. for better understanding of the issue.
And, that’s the real, lasting harm in so many stories about climate change being unseasonably severe that has been demonstrated. People will always blame nature for things going wrong in the environment, but we need a narrative that focuses more on the good that is happening and less on the bad. This has been demonstrated by the fact that, in the U.S. and Australia, many journalists who were otherwise critical of the United States’ role in the fossil fuel industry are now portraying it for what it is and have gone