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Covering Climate Change

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On May 6, royal baby Archie Harrison was born in London to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle. The world watched eagerly as the newest royal family member was introduced to the world, swaddled in a thin white blanket and sleeping in his mother’s arms.

On the same day, 300 miles away, the UN released a report regarding climate change and the status of our ecosystems. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report is the most comprehensive examination of our climate ever completed, according to the UN. The report found that due to climate change and human destruction, around one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. 

“What’s at stake here is a liveable world,” warned Robert Watson, lead scientist for IPBES. The report stated, “we are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

Nevertheless, wide-eyed Archie, with his chubby cheeks and perfect, smiling family, got more airtime in one week, May 6-12, 2019, than did climate change in all of 2018. 

The next UN Climate Summit begins this September 23. The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review, in partnership with The Guardian, have decided to try to get the climate message out by founding Covering Climate Now. Covering Climate Now is a project to increase climate coverage and inform readers about the severity of our planet’s situation. 

Gym Climber and Rock and Ice will be apart of Covering Climate Now, along with over 150 other media outlets. From September 16-23, expect more information about climate change and ways that, as members of the climbing community, we can make better decisions for the environment.

Since the conception of the 2015 Paris agreement, 197 nations have agreed to do something about the Earth’s rising temps. The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, a detailed global plan to fight climate change, established a structure for global climate action, including “mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, support for developing nations, and transparent reporting and strengthening of climate goals.” The only major carbon emitting countries not to sign were Russia, Turkey and Iran.

Following Trump’s induction into office, however, Trump has claimed climate change is a “hoax.” He has been fighting the UN and the original agreement signed by Obama. The Trump administration is working hard to roll back U.S. initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the Clean Power Plan and policies to tighten automotive fuel economy standards. 

Meanwhile the UN and scientists around the world continue to urge key world figures to do their part. According to Columbia Journalism Review, last October, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “warned that humanity had just 12 years to slash heat-trapping emissions in half or else face catastrophic temperature rise and the record-breaking extreme weather it unleashes.” 

The Intelligencer summarized the report: “Nearly all coral reefs would die out, wildfires and heat waves would sweep across the planet annually, and the interplay between drought and flooding and temperature would mean that the world’s food supply would become dramatically less secure. Avoiding that scale of suffering… requires such a thorough transformation of the world’s economy, agriculture, and culture that ‘there is no documented historical precedent.’”

When the October IPCC report was released, 28 of the 50 major newspapers in the US didn’t bother to inform their readers.

“Can we tell the story so people get it?” said TV newsman Bill Moyers in regards to the coverage of climate change. With the help of other journalists, TV and radio stations and institutions, we will try.

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