Why the media shares blame for our ecological mess

Natural disasters – no longer as natural as they used to be – are
rendered morally ambiguous as 'acts of God' rather than 'acts of man'

QUATHIASKI COVE, B.C. / Troy Media/ – Reports on sobering science confirm that the media has failed to reflect the seriousness of the unfolding climate crisis.

This incongruity between scientific assessments and the media coverage creates the impression that our greenhouse gas emissions are a manageable challenge, that our corrective measures are adequate, and that we can avoid ecological catastrophe.

The opposite almost certainly applies on all points.

The media is largely to blame for this misrepresentation of our predicament. Its efforts to provide balanced coverage are admirable when exploring the broad dimensions of controversial issues. But not every subject is equally controversial.

On climate change, the media continually juxtaposes messages of alarm with those of reassurance. That inflates the importance of minority opinions and gives the impression that the political initiatives being enacted are sufficient to address the problem.

But the science is conclusive. Climate change is happening, the consequences will be serious and won’t be averted simply by pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

As extreme weather disasters proliferate and heat records are regularly broken, the searching reporter and inquisitive camera can always find someone who will attribute the cause to an El Niño year – only one-fifth the effect, by scientific reckoning – or some other extenuating circumstance. In the meantime, we lose valuable time and opportunities for corrective measures. So we enter further into the multiple and irreversible manifestations of extreme weather.

The media has the power to set the global climate crisis in its proper and serious perspective. It does this for declarations of war and terrorist acts, when headlines dominate the front pages of newspapers, special features consume radio, and extended coverage occupies television. These unequivocal events of human drama get special attention. The same attention could be given to issues relating to climate change but this option is subverted by the complex psychology.

Natural disasters – no longer as natural as they used to be – have become morally ambiguous. Media still conveys the impression that the victims are wholly innocent. Sympathy is implicit for those who suffer the effects of floods, droughts, wildfires, hurricanes and the other expressions of extreme weather.

But so-called “acts of God” are increasingly becoming “acts of man.” What does the media do with the growing complexities of sympathy when the suffering is self-inflicted?

The obvious solution is to avoid the issue of human blame. So human-caused climate change is downplayed in respectful deference to the victims. The actual cause, the unmentionable that pervades every such news report, is silenced beneath the drama of tragedy. The cause and effect can’t be connected without violating our ethical sensibilities.

So the collective consciousness of our culture, as cultivated by the media, disconnects our behaviour from its consequences. This avoids a confrontation with the seriousness of the climate problem and impairs the possibility of implementing solutions. That which we should be saying remains unsaid. We don’t acknowledge the truth we know.

The full ramifications of our emissions escape critical examination. So our critical need for solutions is unsatisfied and the comfort of illusion persists.

Ultimately, science is undone by the media.

 

– Ray Grigg is the author of seven internationally published books on Oriental philosophy, specifically Zen and Taoism.

 

 

Just Posted

Man dies in snowmobile accident during Sun Peaks race

An Alberta man has died as a result of a fatal snowmobile… Continue reading

Lambing in full swing at Aveley Sheep Ranch

Spring is here and this may be most obvious at Aveley Heritage… Continue reading

RCMP looking for grain haulers dumping grain on roadside pull-outs

Illegal practice happening on Highway 5 between Valemount and Avola

Personal Development Weekend Retreat coming up

By K.A. Pendergast Have you ever been stressed? I am sure most… Continue reading

MayDay Parade Theme is “Clearwater Life”

Parade takes place May 18 and starts at Capostinsky Park

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

Most Read