Guest essay by Eric Worrall
George Monbiot, a prominent Guardian Environmental Reporter, has accused the “corrupt” media establishment of not telling anyone that the world just ended.
The climate crisis is already here – but no one’s telling us
What is salient is not important. What is important is not salient. The media turns us away from the issues that will determine the course of our lives, and towards topics of brain-melting irrelevance.
This, on current trends, will be the hottest year ever measured. The previous record was set in 2015; the one before in 2014. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century. Each of the past 14 months has beaten the global monthly temperature record. But you can still hear people repeating the old claim, first proposed by fossil fuel lobbyists, that global warming stopped in 1998.
Arctic sea ice covered a smaller area last winter than in any winter since records began. In Siberia, an anthrax outbreak is raging through the human and reindeer populations because infected corpses locked in permafrost since the last epidemic in 1941 have thawed. India has been hammered by cycles of drought and flood, as withering heat parches the soil and torches glaciers in the Himalayas. Southern and eastern Africa have been pitched into humanitarian emergencies by drought. Wildfires storm across America; coral reefs around the world are bleaching and dying.
Throughout the media, these tragedies are reported as impacts of El Niño: a natural weather oscillation caused by blocks of warm water forming in the Pacific. But the figures show that it accounts for only one-fifth of the global temperature rise. The El Niño phase has now passed, but still the records fall.
To pretend that newspapers and television channels are neutral arbiters of such matters is to ignore their place at the corrupt heart of the establishment. At the US conventions, to give one small example, the Washington Post, the Atlantic and Politico were paid by the American Petroleum Institute to host a series of discussions, at which climate science deniers were represented. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but the purse is mightier than the pen.
Why should we trust multinational corporations to tell us the truth about multinational corporations? And if they cannot properly inform us about the power in which they are embedded, how can they properly inform us about anything?
If humanity fails to prevent climate breakdown, the industry that bears the greatest responsibility is not transport, farming, gas, oil or even coal. All of them can behave as they do, shunting us towards systemic collapse, only with a social licence to operate. The problem begins with the industry that, wittingly or otherwise, grants them this licence: the one for which I work.
The problem is George, your Climate Crisis was never going to be newsworthy. No “Day After Tomorrow” superstorms, no surge in bad weather, no collapsing nations or mass migrations to polar regions. Your friends in New Zealand can’t even convince the courts they found a climate refugee.
Even if a few degrees of warming did happen, and thats a big if, the sad truth is it won’t change anything – nobody will notice. At most a few people might turn their air conditioners up a notch in the warm months.
You’ve blown it George – you and your friends are claiming the climate crisis is upon us. But nobody cares – because nothing bad is happening, except in the fevered imaginations of climate zealots like yourself.