We Need GOOD News on Climate Change
Tired of all the relentlessly grim news about climate change? - So am I. But the truth is that it's not all gloom and doom.
In a recent article in Yes! magazine, Sarah van Gelder makes the case for truly objective reporting in the media on the climate crisis. She makes the well-documented point that "false balance" in reporting gives too strong a voice to climate change deniers and is thus a distortion of the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming: that it is real, and that humans are the cause.
But there is another way in which the media does not faithfully reproduce reality: the omission of stories about people working on solutions. While the stories about climate change must necessarily include grim reports on hurricanes, wildfires and ocean acidification, these very depressing and scary news items are not the whole story. Van Gelder writes:
"More truly objective reporting on the climate crisis and its systemic causes would be a huge improvement over what we find now. But still it would be just half the story. The other half is the solutions. We need much more reporting on solutions, and not just to keep despair from sending us screaming into those rising seas."
"... There is a climate justice movement happening that few know exists—a movement founded in the grassroots and especially in communities that are often ignored by the corporate media: Appalachia, indigenous communities, youth, farmers, fishermen, and small businesses. It's a movement that doesn’t separate environmental concerns from human concerns, but that recognizes that they are one and the same.
At the forefront of this movement are young people, ranchers, tribal leaders, people living near refineries, those resisting hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking), and others who are most affected by the fossil fuel industry. People are using their bodies to block the building of tar sands pipelines, to stop mountaintop removal, to prevent drilling in their communities—both to protect their land, water, and health, and to protect the climate."
This is really heartening stuff, and we all need to hear more of it. In particular, we need the inspiration, and the feeling that we are not alone in working to right the conditions on this planet. Van Gelder continues:
"The truth is that there is no shortage of solutions—whether it's Germany's turn to solar power or the carbon-storing power of restored soils. But given the shortage of stories about solutions, it's little wonder that so many people—once they understand the implications of the climate crisis—leap right from denial to despair. When stories of people taking action are censored, when the innovations that could help us tackle the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced go unreported, when the ordinary people and grassroots leaders working to build a sustainable future go unquoted, people are left isolated and feeling powerless.
That's what makes solutions journalism so important at this point in human history."
I'll do my bit: I've started a new Pinterest board called "Reasons for Hope". So yes, it's arranged right next to the "Alarm Bells are Ringing" board, but it's the juxtaposition that stirs us into action. If you find anything that belongs on that board, please let me know about it: no victory too small.
A larger collection of solutions that have been put into place can be found at the #itshappening page of 10:10, which reports the good news on all scales large and small, from Portugal achieving 70% renewable power generation, to the resurgence of bicycling in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to a homeowner proudly presenting the newly installed solar cells on his roof, to stories of urban gardening.
The 10:10 organisation proposes that we cut our carbon footprint, 10% at a time, and offers challenges, games and those inspiring stories from all around the world, to help us in our own efforts.
The Transition Network is another source of stories about how communities are re-thinking their energy generation and use. Communities can learn from each other through the Transition Town Network and the Sustainable Cities Collective.
It's a bandwagon. Jump on!
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By Lisa Owen