As I sit down to write about my planet – the land beneath my feet, the air I breath, and the universe in which my small carbon-based life form spins with startling insignificance – I can report one stunning piece of information: there is no news. Not that much of what I read in the paper is unaffected by the natural environment in which I exist, but that there is no acknowledgement today of that influence in my newspaper of choice, The New York Times.
Perhaps, as I scan the secondary sections of the paper I will see some mention of the environment upon which everything else hinges. But no headline or editorial in the main section addresses this elemental concern. Some events that made the front page invite a broader discussion about how the environment bears on the issue at hand; gas prices, for example, are discussed in terms of political leverage – parties jockeying for advantage in representing their supporters’ interests. Nowhere is there reference to the underlying dynamic of my planet, which is mined, poked and prodded for exploitation of a finite resource: oil. Is it because we all know about this dynamic? Or because paper and ink are themselves precious, expensive resources? If this is so, I am forced to ask, how much ink, in the main section, was expended on the royal wedding, the royal gown, the royal couple?
An article about the tornadoes that ripped through the Southern states appropriately made the front page. Pages fourteen and fifteen of the paper are also dedicated to different aspects of the twisters’ devastation: lost property, lost memories, lost lives. But nowhere in this coverage is there a discussion of the uptick in violent storm activity that many scientists attribute to global weather patterns, induced by global warming. I know it’s all been said. But ignoring the issue in this context is like ignoring the alcohol in a drunk driving accident. Of course we don’t know all the facts and their proportional share in the tragedy is undetermined. But the importance of alcohol, and global weather patterns, in their respective stories, is indisputable.
So, in this, my first entry for the Planet section of my website, I have nothing to report. Nothing that has appeared in the headlines, or on page sixteen or in the editorials of my newspaper of choice. As storms rage, flood waters rise and the ocean grows a sea of plastic, there is nothing, apparently, about the environment that is newsworthy.
Resources on Climate Change