Tag Archives: journalists and climate change

Climate change – accepting the reality as a journalist

The United Nations Climate change conference, and the current buzz around it, brings home a comment made by a recent lecturer we had, Mark Brayne, about the state of the world we live in.

Although the purpose of Brayne’s talk was more geared around trauma and the psychology behind the reporting I was really hit hard by something he said: The human race might not survive to the end of this century.

I don’t know if this struck a cord with anyone else but it sure did for me. I’ve always been concerned about climate change and what we can do. However, I was quite shocked by the way Brayne delivered such a serious, depressing message in such a blunt manner, this made me realise that maybe chucking empty bottles into a separate bin isn’t quite enough. We all need to wake up and smell the carbon emissions.

Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Talking to Richard Tait, (the director of CJS and BBC  trust trustee), I came to realise that the state of our world is truly scary. But it’s happening. Hiding away won’t get us anywhere, so we as journalists (and just as people) need to buck up and face up to it. This situation kind of mirrors what we’ve been learning all year in our online lectures – journalists have to accept the change in media technology if they want to survive. It’s the same with the environment: it’s happening and it’s happening fast, so we need to be prepared.  As people we need to start to try and change our behaviour, and as journalists we need to get ourselves prepared for potential disasters so that we can be ready to go out there and tell the story to the world.

For a long time, no one really thought about climate change. From the 80s it was brought into the public eye but with a big debate over whether it was a natural cycle or a man made catastrophe. Now there has been a lot more weight added to the side that climate change is the real deal. The next stage is to accept this, because we have just crept out of the deliberating stage we are a bit behind. We need to speed up our reaction to our rapidly changing world.

In my view not enough people have been scared into this truth. More people like Brayne need to be going out there and giving people the harsh realities of the future. Because we’re going to be reporting on far more heart-breaking ‘natural’ disasters as we head into the decades to come.

“My position is that journalists need to recognise that the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion is that climate change is taking place and it is man made.” says Tait. “Certainly the broadcasters need to continue to cover the arguments of the  climate change sceptics when appropriate, but not on the basis that scientific opinion is equally split on the issue.”

Because we have just crept out of the deliberating stage we are a bit behind. We need to speed up our reaction to this reality. Otherwise we won’t be able to keep up with the crazy way our world is responding to our carelessness. It’s a bleak view but we need to prepare for covering more floods, more storms, more deaths. Hiding or turning away just won’t get us anywhere. Let’s hope people have it in them to care.

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