Media Climate

Much of the traditional media just can’t cope with the realty of climate breakdown. It doesn’t know how to respond to the scale of such a crisis, it can’t de-couple itself from the hegemonic norms of growth and all the things we’re told – and tell ourselves – are good. This is a particular problem in Scotland where many of us are still wedded to the 1970s notion that the North Sea Oil will somehow be our saviour, our liberator.

Here Gary Robertson for the BBC enthusiastically reports new Aberdeen University findings …

And in this article by Douglas Fraser ‘North Sea oil and gas ‘could still be worth £330bn’, as Patrick Harvie explains there’s:

“Not a single word about the #climate crisis. We need to leave the bulk of the world’s fossil fuels in the ground if we’re to have the slightest hope, and Scotland is no exception to that.”

Over at the National they tweeted with some apparent glee:


Remember nothing like what is happening — and what needs to happen — has ever occurred in history.

Here the Listening Post explores the global phenomenon of the media failure to report and understand our crisis:


Comments (21)

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  1. Mark Bevis says:

    IPCC: ” rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes are needed in all aspects of society.”

    But what does that actually mean? Do main-stream media journalists have a clue? Does the average TV watcher and Daily Fail reader even grasp the breadth of the word ‘unprecedented’?
    It’s not a word in everyday vocabulary.

    And thus, even if the media wasn’t been influenced by neo-liberal corporations and their bought politicians and bought media outlets, do current journalists have the skills to translate that IPCC comment into an everyday meaning?

    We are talking about reducing energy use by 75% in the western world; stopping everyday car usage and perhaps ownership; not flying anywhere; not consuming meaningless gadgets; not eating meat on a vast scale; and ultimately, not working for a living. We are talking about most people involved in growing food in some form or other, if only part-time. We are talking about redefining work completely. We are talking about owning less, we are talking about deliberate power outages. People will have to relearn talking to each other face to face for example. And we are especially talking about not breeding. Reducing population by 90% will happen one way or the other, better than it be managed in a humane way as possible by deliberate choice and policy, rather than in the random uncontrolled violent and messy way that is starting to happen, and that will accelerate faster than the Antarctic ice melt acceleration.

    These concepts, must be alien to most of the commentariat.

    1. Yes, that’s true, its going to require a massive shift in consciousness, I understand that.

      I dont agree with you about power outages or ‘breeding’, but maybe we’ll have to come back to that.

      But is it too much to ask that an editor or journalist reports on massive new oil exploitation with something more than a ‘hurrah’ – or a wider lens than how this effects the constitutional debate?

      1. Mark Bevis says:

        Outages is probably the wrong word. Energy rationing might be a better description. For example, for all but emergency services (eg hospitals, care homes) you might switch off the grid energies on say, 3 hours of a Friday afternoon. Once a month to start with, then gradually up it to one day a week as people get used to it.
        You might even shut down the mobile phone network at the same time. It may be varied with the weather.

        And/or close the motorways one Sunday a month, and allow people to walk and cycle on them. Just the reduction in noise pollution would be beneficial, never mind the CO2 and NO2 emissions. Similarly with airports, although, if you do enough of both, global dimming will kick in, which is another predicament we have to get used to.

        Population is more controversial, because, population overshoot (which is where we are at) is a catastrophe independent of climate change, and directly proportional to ecological destruction. The planet will not come back into balance without having the fortitude to discuss the population problem.

        But yes, it does seem it is too much to ask of our media when it comes to energy and growth. I’ve long since abandoned MSM, because very few of them actually carry out actual investigative journalism that we used to have, and never outside the Overton window.

        Will the howls of lament be at the actual catastrophes to come, or at the media that failed to tap the knowledge available and at governance that failed to inform us even when they knew?

        1. I’d demand higher values of a public broadcast service – especially in times of crisis.

          Rather than energy rationing – though that has been successful on Eigg for example – we should move towards a rapid energy decent plan.
          While energy utilities are in private hands there is no incentive to encourage people to consume less, quite the opposite.

          1. Mathew says:

            To Mike Small – why do you have a problem with bringing the worlds population down in a managed fashion. Surely it’s a no-brainer that all the problems associated with climate breakdown would be eased if the population were, say, 5 billion rather than 10 billion. Go to – is there anything on that website that makes you uncomfortable?

          2. I have a problem because it confuses the issue as being one of ‘humans’ when it is one of ‘capitalism’.

            Peoples impact is not equal – a high earning – high consuming wealthy westerner has a completely different impact on the environment than most people in less industrially advanced areas of the world.

          3. Mathew says:

            I notice you’re not answering the question: are the problems we face right now made easier or more difficult if human population reduced rather than increased?

          4. It depends which humans you reduce.

          5. Mathew says:

            You don’t reduce humans. You reduce population by providing free contraception to women who at present can’t gain access to it. But I think you know that.
            At current rates of population growth we have 1,000,000 people born every 4 to 5 days. Do you seriously think that’s not a problem?
            I’m an anti-capitalist too. Capitalists love growth and one of the ways they can keep that growth going is to let human population increase unchecked. I would’ve thought that if instead we reduce population we would also be undermining Capitalism?

    2. Bill says:

      I agree with Mark on the measures required that would give human civilisation at least a chance of continuing. However, I doubt that these measures could be enacted by the form of government that we currently have. To successfully enact these measures will, I suspect, require a strong authoritarian state, perhaps even a totalitarian one. I suspect that expecting a bottom up approach to be successful is fantasy thinking, as few would deliberately disadvantage themselves (e.g. by giving up their car) if everyone else was still driving about. We might have to face up to the fact that a draconian state like China is more likely to be able to enact successful changes than any form of democracy. Urgent survival situations require firm, decisive action, not the magical thinking approach that everyone will just ‘do the right thing’. It doesn’t bode well either way!

    3. Andy Gaffney says:

      The largest producers of Global Greenhouse Gases are 100 or so fossil fuel producers who account for 62 per cent with just over 1 Trillion tonnes since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. “Carbon Majors Report 2017” – CDP. We would be most effective quickly if they stopped doing that.

      However, cutting Jet Aircraft travel would have to continue for some time as the contrails they produce are a significant factor in the Global Dimming effect which has prevented an extra 1-degree rise in Global temperature. Global Dimming removal would only be safe after we had a net zero carbon and a stable climate.

      1. Quite right Andy – the idea that ‘we are all responsible’ is a myth

  2. Dougie Blackwood says:

    We are too self interested to deal with climate change. Many of us know that we are on the way to disaster but feel that it is for others to “Do Something”. Everyone wants other people to take the necessary actions but not if it makes life a little less comfortable for us personally.

    The big companies that make their profits from making cars and selling fuel do not want us to change as it would hit the bottom line. The UK government have given up on “All This Green Crap” and removed the subsidies that were moving us toward a greener energy mix. Industry and government want us to take action but do not want to lose either sales of taxation income. We blame India and China for trying to get to where we are now; we look at the wasteful use of energy in the USA and give up in despair.

    Regardless of the warm words and international agreements we will not stop burning oil and gas until either we run out or it becomes scarce enough to make it unaffordable. By then it will be too late.

    The biggest source of carbon dioxide is in the permafrost of the tundra which is all round the north of Europe, Asia and Canada; it is beginning to thaw and disintegrate. As things get a little warmer more permafrost melts and the carbon escapes into the atmosphere. Once started, this release of carbon will become unstoppable; it will feed upon itself, the world will get warmer, the icecaps will melt and anywhere low lying will be swamped. Large areas of the planet will become uninhabitable between rising sea levels and expanding deserts.

    The Sahara is expanding southwards. Timbuktu used to be a centre of learning and culture, it is now consumed by the Sahara and more land south of the Sahara will go the same way.. Large areas of China are turning into desert and California is on the edge of a cliff through lack of fresh water.

    Still we deny that there is a problem. I live at about 100 metres above sea level in a land where water will never be short but there is no room for the rest of the world to move here and live in comfort. In the words of the song “There may be trouble ahead”

  3. Dougie Blackwood says:

    When will we ever learn.

    1. Willie says:

      We don’t learn Dougie.

      Yes there may be some who do, but most don’t.

      This is it. I’m off now to find out how the globe trotting pregnant Princess and her husband are getting on.

      Big news story you know. Makes one proud.

  4. Redgauntlet says:

    And the likely victory of the fascist Bolsonaro in the second round of Brazilian elections this weekend – which needs an article on its own – will see the Amazon jungle burned to the ground and Brazil leave the Paris climate change deal…

    If Jair Bolsonaro wins on Sunday, as he likely will, it surely will constitute the biggest single blow to democracy and progressive politics for decades. The guy makes Trump look like a liberal, and the very last country we want to see leaving Paris is Brazil….

  5. Willie says:

    Human nature does not have the mechanism within it to achieve some kind of sustainable eco-balance.

    Although we can disagree about the proportion, mankind is essentially greedy. It is also parasitic. Look around here as affluence and austerity coexist. And it’s worse elsewhere

    Without wishing to sound Malthusian, mankind will sow its own destruction to restore balance wether by war, pestilence, disease or eco collapse.

    Just as long as I’m one of the lucky survivors – just saying like!

  6. Elaine Fraser says:

    As a woman Im no longer listening to anything Patrick Harvie has to say.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      And as a man I’m also no longer listening to anything Patrick Harvie has to say. Andy Wightman maybe.

    2. Redgauntlet says:

      Harvey is totally right to point out the stinking hypocrisy of the SNP who, on the one hand, boast of being a shining example of new green energies while simultaneously touting new oil and gas fields..

      As for the Greens insistence that the Council Tax be reformed, they are absolutely 100% right. It is an abominable and unfair tax which should have been scrapped years ago… a tax on fresh air / being alive.

      I pay tax, therefore I am…

  7. Willie says:

    As we all rage about the need for reorganising society to use less energy and reduce population size I couldn’t but help notice one of our beloved Scottish Conservative MSPs who reported yesterday to parliament that….

    ” “Ms Ballantyne said: “The two-child limit is about fairness. It is fair that people on benefit cannot have as many children as they like while people who work and pay their way and don’t claim benefits have to make decisions about the number of children they can have.””

    So that’s it then, some exquisite Tory logic to control population by applying econonic support and sanction to the most deprived in our society.

    This is what we voted for and this is what we are getting. But what next?

    Compulsory sterilisation and send some of the others of the wrong ( you select – colour, race, religion, persuasion, political leaning ) home.

    No, that’s here already as Windrush and the hostile society shows.

    Ah well, at least we can talk about it, chatter, chatter


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