In this writer’s experience, the US media is more frequently covering some important climate change issues such as new dire predictions of sea level rise or other climate induced harms such as damages from storms, or the increasing speed of ice melt from large ice masses including Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheet, and other growing horrific climate impacts,
Yet this entry seeks to identify critical climate issues that citizens need to understand to effectively evaluate climate policy issues that the press is mostly failing to cover in our experience. This entry seeks to initiate an exchange among concerned citizens about important climate issues that the press is inadequately covering, We therefore solicit comments about major climate issues that are not appearing in mainstream media discussion that citizens need to understand. This entry does not seek to criticize media working on climate change issues, in fact many are doing excellent work, but only to spot major issues that we believe are inadequately being covered by the media..
This entry was motivated by my and several of my colleagues’ conclusions that we continue to be startled by how many US citizens we run into who seem to not understand how serious climate change is nor the significance of some climate change policy issues about which there appears to be widespread ignorance. We are also blown away by the large number of Americans who still seem to believe that climate change is not caused by humans. The disinformation campaign has worked.
This concern has been deepened by the failure of governments or any NGOs, at least in our experience, to acknowledge the policy significance of the millions of refugees that would be caused by expected climate impacts that were predicted by the Army War blown College in 1997. There is little doubt that millions of these refugees will be created by rising seas yet our legislatures are still dominated by climate deniers. This issue is now on the top of the international agenda now that nations have agreed to fund a “loss and damage” mechanism which was agreed to last year’s Egyptian COP. Allocating responsibility for eligible loss and damages funding is likely to be different from how nations allocate responsibility for reducing emissions to achieve the Paris Agreement ‘s 1.5 C and 2.0C warming limit goals.
Issue 1. The need of the media to report on potential concrete climate policy consequences of frequent fossil fuel related issues that appear in the media such as the Biden decision to support drilling in Alaska.
We believe there is a need to explain how policy issues under consideration such as approving more drilling in Alaska or support for increased use of natural gas will effect the announced US ghg emissions reduction target in light of US GHG emissions have actually increased in the last two years, the US has consistently failed to meet its GHG emissions target, and there is widespread agreement that nations need to commit to a net zero carbon target
II, Linking proposed policies to tipping point concerns and the enormous harms already caused by elevated atmospheric CO2E concentrations
The media should also explain how Issues might affect the feared tipping points some of which are on the verge of being energized. Given that there is a growing concern that the international community needs to commit to achieve a net zero CO2e emissions no later than the next COP in the United Arab Emirates to the assure that the international community from staying within the 1. 5 C Paris Agreement Warming Limit Goal.
In discussing these issues media should remind the public of the enormous harms to parts of the world if nations fail to take action consistent with their obligations.
An example of the confusion that can be caused if the media fails to link their reporting of developments in national approaches to climate change to the most feared climate harms is a story appearing in the New York Times which announces numerous decisions of governments to increase development of fossil fuel resources without comment on how these decisions increase the most feared harms that motivate restriction of fossil fuel use.
Since the Paris deal in 2015 a significant percentage of media attention on the climate crisis has been in this writer’s experience respect to whether climate change is a natural phenomenon or human caused and issues relating to achieving the Paris Agreement’s warming limit goals of 1.5 C and 2.0 C.warming limit goal.
Yet because the growing climate caused suffering of communities around the world is being caused by elevated atmospheric CO2e levels which all countries have contributed to, the major media focus on issues relating to achieving the Paris Agreement warming limit goals may be a distraction.from emissions reductions needed to prevent.harms already being experienced such as flooding, intense storms, sea level rise, and drought, from increasing..
As we will see, limiting attention to climate harms being caused by CO2e emissions that raise atmospheric CO2e concentrations has unfortunately resulted in lack of public awareness in the link between the millions of refugees predicted as early as 1987 by the Army War College and US emissions. This is so despite the fact that in 1992 UNFCCC all nations agreed that they had responsibility to ensure activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause harm to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. I believe this provision may have been largely ignored by the press because there has been no mechanism up until now under international law to assign and allocate damages for harms that nations cause.by their CO2e emissions. Now however, the loss and damage funding mechanism that the international community agreed to negotiate this year should bring more attention national CO2 emissions and harms that they create. Also contributing to the failure to see a connection between a nation’s CO2e emissions and harms created by them around the world are certain scientific features of climate change that are different from other other pollution problems as we have talked about on this website several times. See:
Seven Features of Climate Change That Citizens and the Media Need to Understand that Are Different than Other Environmental Problems
The above image depicts the reality that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 rise as CO2 emissions rise. The policy implication of this fact is that all CO2 emissions are making climate harms worse globally for as long as the CO2 emissions are raising atmospheric CO2 concentrations.rise which is the ultimate cause ofl the climate harms the world is experiencing including the millions of refugees that the Army War College warned would create national security threats in parts of world vulnerable to climate impacts.such as drought in Syria.
III. The Policy Issues Raised by the New Loss and Damage Funding Mechanism
Last year at the Egyptian COP the international community agreed to create a fund for loss and damages from climate harms. Although the criteria for determining individual national responsibilities for loss and damages is expected to be different from the considerations previously identified to determine a nation’s equitable share of reductions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s Warming Limits, there has been little press coverage of these issues. As a result when the media announced the US support for a loss and damage mechanism, many US NGOs expressed confusion about what this was about. As an example,.a few asked me if loss and damage funding was reparations.
The practical need for more press on issues like this is that without greater civil society understanding of these issues, opponents of climate action will likely continue to make false claims which may get political traction. Making the matter more urgent, as the US prepares its position for the next UNFCCC COP this fall in United Arab Emirates at a time when there is a growing consensus that all countries urgently need to commit to a net zero reduction, many US legislators at both the federal and state levels are still climate deniers. are likely to resist federal and state proposed net zero emissions reduction targets. The media could perform a publics service by linking legislators whose vote will probably be needed to achieve a net zero commitment to funding from fossil fuel interests
There has been startling confusion for the last decade in the US on what equity requires of nations in determining the nations NDC. The confusion on what constitutes equity is initially attributable to the inability to negotiate a clearer definition, a problem which would normally be expected to be resolved through negotiation before an agreement like the Paris Agreement was finalized. Yet the United States refused to negotiate a clearer definition and settled for a “pledge and review” system which allowed each country to determine a position on what equity.requres which would be the subject of comment during periodic stock takes The failure to achieve greater public understanding of acceptable interpretations of equity is an invitation to opponents of climate change action to engage in disinformation about the fairness of the Paris Agreement. This is a false claim that President Trump made to justify the US withdrawal from the 2015 Agreement which was demonstratively false because the Paris Agreement allowed each nation to determine what was fair before submitting their proposals. Furthermore many Americans claimed the deal was unfair because it did not require China to reduce its emissions at rate equal to or greater than the United States even though there was agreement among most ethicists that a nations total emissions need to be modified by per capita or other considerations. to determine equity. More specifically IPCC explained:
.Yet there was very little US media coverage of these issues in my experience despite the importance of getting the equity step right.
Despite this clarification by IPCC, of what is a reasonable interpretation of equity in our experience few US citizens and NGOs demonstrated an understanding of this when they made recommendations on a US CO2e reduction target. This alone is strong evidence of the benefit of additional press coverage. of the meaning of equity
Some of the needed additional media coverage is required because most citizens and even members of the media appear in our experience not to understand scientific features of climate change that are different from other environmental problems. This failure may be responsible for President Biden approving new drilling in Alaska at a time when there is a growing consensus of the urgency of nations to commit to achieve net zero emissions by the next UNFCCC COP in United Arab Emirates.
The loss and damages negotiations are very likely to trigger misinformation eventhough the Army War College noted that developed nations providing some financial relief to vulnerable countries was in the developed nations interest to reduce the hostility that would be directed at the developed countries for their failure to prevent harms to developing countries, No matter what happens sea level rise will likely continue n the years ahead which will further devastate countries like Bangladesh, parts of Indonesia, and Small Island States.among others. Dealing with refugees will require international cooperation
IV. Monitor National Interpretations and Compliance with Ethical/Legal Principals Relevant to a Nations’ Compliance with International Law.
For over 30 years opponents of climate change policies largely framed their opposition on scientific uncertainty or excessive costs. Yet in adopting the 1992 Climate Treaty, nations had to grapple with several ethical/legal principles which undermined the legitimacy of this framing. These principles included the “no harm”.” precautionary”, “equity” : and :the duty to protect ‘human rights.The media could perform a public benefit by monitoring whether these principles get traction. in future disputes about policies. These principles also undermine the scientific uncertainty and excessive cost arguments.
Thank you for your continued focus on the topic of ethics as it relates to climate and suggestions to the media to cover climate change issues to help contend with cognitive dissonance in the US. It strikes me though that much of your references to climate crises focuses on someplace other than the US and as a former jourmer journalist turned activist because of the very issues you present, I felt the need to turn to activism to better convey the message that has been ignored for much of our lifetime.
I joined The Climate Mobilization organization, started by a Harvard Psychologist, Margaret Klein-Salamon, in 2019 after reading Professor Jem Bendell’s paper on the inevitability of “collapse” after 25 years of service with the World Wildlife Fund as a sustainability educator. Contending with cognitive dissonance and mobilization on a global scale to address the issue of our Anthropogenic predicament has been on my mind ever since meeting Al Gore in 2006 while covering his screening of An Inconvenient Truth for a Gannett paper in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
It has become apparent that if we bring the issue of climate change home in a way that makes us think about how we in the US are directly affected by the changes, our message has greater efficacy. As a University of Florida graduate, I returned to my home state to reorient myself to this crisis as I understood it and have raised the awareness in my local community about the needs of our coastal communities and the climate migrants we are already seeing. With close to 10-million people living within a few feet above current sea-levels and American citizens migrating to Florida at the rate of 36,000 per month, escaping the fires of the West and seeking warmth from climate weirding taking place across the Midwest, the ethics of our current Governor’s message as he positions himself as a presidential candidate needs to be highlighted immediately.
In 2019, just weeks before the outbreak of COVID, a small group of us from Florida were trained in Cambridge, MA with The Climate Mobilization and were successful in urging two of our State’s cities to declare a Climate Emergency. Both Miami and my college town of Gainesville, FL declared an emergency immediately upon conveying Margaret Klein-Salamon’s paper. We here in North Central Florida are anticipating numerous migrants from South Florida with the near-term expectation of sea-level rise and our blue bubble in the center of the State is grappling with this concept as the city reorients itself to the thought of a mass migration from the collapse of the Thwaites glacier.
What has become readily apparent to me is that we often speak of Climate Change as something that will affect the Global South, while ignoring the very real effects we are seeing in our own communities. Communications as it comes from the media has been hampered by the conglomerates that formed following FCC changes during the Clinton administration and we are seeing the results of these new rules as publishers and producers of media outlets, now owned by fewer than five conglomerates has limited the coverage of the issue in a way that is quite disturbing and the more we can bring this message home to our Country, the better.
Thank you again for your message in your posts. Currently I am planning to migrate myself to the northern latitudes, feeling I have done all I can for the State I grew up in and love, moving into a form of Deep Adaption of my own with the idea of creating a sanctuary for those of us who have been trying much of our lives to convey this message. If you are looking for a resource to deal with the emotions related the work you are doing I strongly suggest the Deep Adaptation Forum’s global community of professionals who have come together in support of one another during this transition we have entered into.
All the best,