In an unprecedented joint effort, an editorial calling for decisive action in Copenhagen will be published tomorrow by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian. Most of the newspapers have taken the unusual step of featuring the editorial on their front page.
The Guardian is one of the leading media outlets covering global warming, with 6 specialist reporters and a dedicated environmental website. They led a team of editors across the globe to write a text that papers in different parts of the world could agree to. It wasn’t easy:
"After a series of discussions with scientists and other experts, we circulated a skeleton argument to the group of papers who had signed up early, and the comments that came pouring back quickly offered a taste of what the real Copenhagen negotiations must be like: our Polish colleagues wanted an acknowledgment that poorer new EU countries should not have to bear as much of the coming burden as 'Old Europe'; our Indian partner suggested that the argument reflected a "lopsided" developed world perspective and needed to say more about what the rich world must do; a Chinese editor wanted to flag the importance of addressing "exported" emissions – those created by the rich world increasingly consuming goods manufactured in developing countries. Some thought the editorial's assessment of the consequences of inaction was too gloomy; some not gloomy enough."
Anyone studying the list of newspapers behind the editorial will quickly spot one glaring gap: the absence of any first-rank US paper. This should come as no surprise to anyone following this story; news coverage in the US has consistently lagged the coverage in other countries. Many academic researchers having demonstrated that news media’s supposed preference for “balance” compels them to include dissenting opinions, even if those opinions are from a fringe group.
This supposed “balance” that actually leads to inaccurate and distorted coverage is well-documented in a terrific new book entitled Climate Cover-up; The Crusade to Deny Global Warming. The author, James Hoggan, runs a PR firm and does an excellent job exposing the tactics and people leading the climate change denial industry. The recent Climategate scandal is a perfect example of spreading fear and doubt in the public consciousness. However, even a cursory study of the actual issues involved (check out Diane Rehm’s interview with John Podesta and Michael Mann) quickly reveals this is an outrageous attempt to shift the discussion away from the real issues.
I recently wrote a post about the most recent update from IPCC scientists. These leading scientists tell us the turning point must come much sooner than any leading politician is willing to state. We need to peak between 2015 and 2020 and then decline rapidly. The world has to transition to a post-carbon economy (meaning near zero emissions) by 2050.
Keep your eye on the ball and don’t be distracted by Climategate. The unprecedented cooperation of newpapers all around the world is a sign that people are coming together to make a difference.