Climate change is old news. In 1990, the IPCC warned that an increase in carbon emissions would damage ecosystems and cause sea levels to rise. The narrative that we’re killing the planet might be repetitive, but whilst the media continue to relegate climate change to the bottom of the pile of stories deemed newsworthy, global warming increases. After too many years of pushing the problem into the background, we’re neck-deep in an environmental catastrophe with no solution.
The much-needed climate activist group Extinction Rebellion have created a refreshing wave of hope and positivity for so many across the country, including myself. Witnessing the rise of the movement by following the group on social media I felt optimistic. I was excited that finally, the government would be forced to act upon the biggest problem that faces our planet. Sadly, what I came to realise was that outside of my arguably naïve, optimistic bubble of my own Facebook and Twitter feed, the truth was not being told.
It’s a pretty big deal when 6,000 activists block off 5 of London’s major bridges for an entire day, yet on this evening, the BBC gave more coverage to the French protests for cheaper fuel. Are non-violent protests – characterised by their aim of enacting positive environmental change through collective action – not enough to capture the media’s attention? Does it really take violence (seen in the French protests) to make the headlines?
Despite the media’s neglect, Extinction Rebellion have gained momentum: activists led a funeral march for the planet to Buckingham palace, they have blocked major roads and there have been similar protests across major U.K cities including Manchester, Edinburgh and Sheffield.
The fact is, it should not take drastic action to get the media to cover climate change. And the irony is that it hasn’t – or at least not enough. The government continue to ignore the threat, facilitated by the media’s meagre coverage; if the public aren’t aware of the scale of the protests, then government pressure will be minimised.
It seems as if mainstream media outlets often confuse political neutrality with obliterating the vital coverage of this spiralling threat to our planet. For example, when the BBC interviewed climate change denier Lord Lawson without challenging him. It does not take a climate change denier to balance the debate when climate change is the reality of which we’re already experiencing the effects.
It’s upsetting to see a public funded organisation, which prides itself on informing the public, deny access to essential news stories which affect the public attitude to climate change. It’s imperative that mainstream media outlets provide more environmental coverage which conveys the true scale of the problem. The message should always be one of the necessity for change to our current systems. It’s no secret that we are set to exceed temperatures of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2025, which the IPCC has warned to be disastrous. But if we’re going to stop this, we need the media to do its job.