It’s an old cliche that Midwesterners (such as myself) like to talk about the weather at any and all hours of the day, and I’m going to lean into that trope today. But, I’m not alone in that decision this week:
If you have any access to the internet or print newspaper, or access to someone else who has access to the internet or print newspaper, then you’ve heard about the wacky weather hitting the world, including, but not limited to: epic flooding in Western Europe, punishing heat waves in Russia and Canada, and terrible drought and increased forest fires across the Western USA.
The combination of all of these events made it impossible for traditional news outlets to ignore what was going on, and the New York Times’ front page headline this past Sunday was “Climate Change Comes For the Wealthy Nations: Brutal Heat and Deadly Floods Show World Unprepared to Cope With Extreme Weather.” This was in addition to several articles regarding weather and climate change later in the paper and widespread coverage in other news outlets. Indeed, from a personal standpoint, I’ve been reading about and listening to climate change in the news more than ever this year.
At last! Climate change getting the coverage it deserves and the coverage we need to motivate meaningful change!
But also, this increase in conversation about climate change has really only come as we’ve started to see serious effects in places like the US, Canada, and Western Europe, and isn’t it pretty messed up that it took until “wealthy” nations were suffering to get everyone to notice?
The Guardian, known for its solid environmental news coverage, recently published a couple of articles highlighting disparities about how people are un/able to adapt to climate change depending on their socio-economic statuses: “The Climate Crisis Will Create Two Classes: Those Who Can Flee, and Those Who Cannot” and “In Karachi, Hot Weather is Normal … But 44C Feels Like You’re Going to Die.”
The explicit inequity in how people are able to respond to immediate crises is an obvious problem, but these articles bring up another, more subtle and sinister problem: namely, that you’re far less likely to hear stories like the ones in these articles that detail how less wealthy countries or less wealthy people of the world are suffering, even when the amount suffering is equal or greater. Journalists covering the global gig have a responsibility to make their coverage truly global, and as news consumers, we should demand that they do so.
While I don’t have any specific actions to point you towards today, I want to encourage everyone reading this to figure out some way to support high-quality journalism and to demand improvement where coverage is lacking, because getting the word out and getting people talking is half the battle when it comes to climate change. (Not to mention all of the other positive impacts quality local news organizations can have on communities.) At On the Level, we certainly look to #TheFrontline from Atmos Mag for climate justice coverage. However, we certainly need mainstream coverage to catch up. They could look to this guide for Covering Climate Equitably from the Solutions Project! Together, let’s make sure we get the whole story.
And, as always, you can support the movement subscribing to our newsletter, sending it to friends and family, following us on our social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and/or donating to On the Level.
Thanks for reading!