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To the Media: Please Debate the Constructive Responses to Climate Change, Not Its Existence
To: Editors of UK print, broadcast and online media
Dear editors of the UK media,
We call on you to move forward with your approach to climate change debates.
Instead of giving disproportionate weight to people who would deny its existence or significance, we want you to reflect the weight of evidence that it's happening, and from there to bring in experts to debate the most appropriate policy responses.
We call on you to inform us, your audiences and readers, about policies, funding and legislation that would enable mitigation and adaptation, in order that we are able to demand and support appropriate action in the light of our growing planetary predicament.
Specifically, we ask that you prioritise debate about constructive responses to climate change over debate about its existence.
Why is this important?
The evidence for human-induced climate change is compelling*. What we need now is action. But without the political will this won't happen; and without popular support there will be no political will.
Much power and responsibility therefore rests with the media: to inform the public appropriately so that we are able to demand - and give support for - the required responses to our growing planetary predicament.
While editors' acknowledgement of a range of views is to be applauded, the issue of climate change is of such critical importance that efforts must be made now to prevent those who are neither qualified nor objective from dominating and prolonging unproductive debates over its extent and significance.
Instead it is time to open up important and interesting discussions about what we must now do; not just about what we can do as volunteers or at grassroots level, but about what must happen at policy level to ensure that the myriad imaginative and constructive grassroots initiatives already underway are properly supported, economically and legally; about what is required to ensure that appropriate national level initiatives are enabled and implemented; and about the options for ensuring that activities and businesses that perpetuate the damage are penalised and constrained.
There is an abundance of constructive responses to climate change and ecosystem degradation, across a variety of sectors, most of which are rarely mentioned in mainstream media. Discussion of such options and their relative merits could enliven programming schedules for years to come.
For example, industrial agriculture is responsible for between 14 and 24% of greenhouse gas emissions globally** (as well as for destroying vast tracts of healthy soil and contaminating fresh waterways). Yet there are other approaches to producing our food: carbon farming, eco-agriculture and agroforestry to name a few, some of which sequester carbon from the atmosphere back into the soil, as well as produce food. These approaches are supported neither by subsidies nor tax policies; while the destructive models are. Surely this merits discussion.
Alternatives to carbon intensive methods exist also for energy production, for building, for water catchment management, and for transportation. Policies, legislation and economic constructs to support such alternatives are available and implemented in other countries***, yet in the UK, tax-payers' money still subsidises destructive models.
Shouldn't these be the issues under debate? Shouldn't the public be informed as to the alternatives and the possibilities for where their hard-earned money is spent, and how these decisions affect their environment, their food and water, their climate, and their children's future?
We believe that providing such properly informed and forward-looking coverage is an absolute imperative, and this is why we are calling on all media organisations to take their responsibilities to us all and to the planet seriously.
* From NASA: "Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position" -
A list of further resources summarising the evidence can be found here:
From The Guardian, 14 February 2014: "Flooding and storms in UK are clear signs of climate change, says Lord Stern" -
** As reported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR):
*** There are many examples. Here are a couple. Uruguay is expecting to generate 90% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015:
In 2013, wind power alone produced more than 30% of Denmark's gross power consumption:
For comparison: renewables contribution to UK electricity generation was 11.3% in 2012 -
Image: Brockweir, on the Wye estuary, 2014. Courtesy: Dave Throup/Environment Agency.
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