It’s been clear for years that editors have decided that there is a hole in their publications that only a climate story can fill on a daily basis. Rain or shine there must be a story lamenting said rain or shine. Having worked in the journalism business on several occasions, I know only too well that any news hole can become like a black hole, sucking the life out of journalists with its constant demand for copy.
It’s true in sports, politics, food and health–news holes ruin journalists, if not journalism. Now that climate change is a beat, we are all getting beaten over the head with our daily dose of Ruination!
When there is a big story, like the COP21 conference in Paris or a flood, the climate journalist’s job is easy. It is made easier by the flood of releases of story ideas–and even pre-written stories–emanating from NGOs and the constant drumbeat of sexed up releases by the PR departments of academic institutions trumpeting the latest findings from their climate scientists.
When there isn’t big news, however, the journalists tend to look for just about anything to fill the gaping maw that is their editor’s news hole.
As you may have guessed by now, today is such a day. Welcome to the wonderful world of Google News, search string ‘climate change.’
It starts with a legitimate story (the black hole luring me in), something that I am concerned about and have written about myself: ‘We Can Expect More Outbreaks Like Zika As The Climate Changes.” And we may, although international travel and our reluctance to use mosquito destruction tactics that have worked in the past are probably bigger contributors to the spread of the disease than climate change. But it’s a legitimate concern.
But from there the string of 79,500,000 (really) news stories just goes down hill. Fast.
“Can Climate Change Break The Global Food System?” advertises a symposium sponsored by the Center For American Progress, sponsors also of Joe Romm–nuff said. I’ll save you the price of a ticket–the short answer is no.
“Will Climate Change Move Agriculture Indoors? And Will That Be A Good Thing?” Umm, no, and I wonder at the seeming lack of perspicacity of anyone who could pose either question.
“Chickens The Latest Animal To Be Threatened By Climate Change.” Actually not true–see below. And while we can’t move agriculture indoors, the journalist responsible for this story might be amazed to know just how many chickens live their lives indoors. Problem solved?
“Climate Change And Pets: More More Fleas, More Heartworm.” My heart (no worms) goes out to Margery Cooper, cited in the story, who “lost her beloved dog Scout to complications from Lyme disease a few years ago.” and “Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, has even noticed changes in her 18-year-old tortoises, George and Mulan. They normally hibernate from October or November to April or May. But they were late going down this season and in mid-January, one of them was up walking around in 70-degree weather, Bernstein said.” I literally have no words to express my reaction to this story.
“Will Climate Change Make The Koala’s Diet Inedible?” “The koala could soon be even more endangered than at present, if it turns out that climate change alters the nutritional value of the only food it can eat—Eucalypt leaves. Assistant Professor Elizabeth Neilson from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences from University of Copenhagen has received a $5 million grant from the Villum Young Investigator Program for the search of how the chemical structure of the leaves is disrupted.” I literally have no words to express my feelings about the amount of money being spent on this research study.
However, the stories above provide a convenient answer to the question posed in this story: “What Will It Take For Us To Take Climate Change, Global Warming Seriously?” It’s a story that poses an even more interesting question: “Imagine living with a small temperature that never goes away. What would that do to a body’s health?”
I’ll leave it to my readers to answer that question. My own advice is simple: