What Reporting Looks Like at the End of the World

This summer has seen another spate of deadly wildfires, from Oregon to Sweden to Greece. The Greek fires encapsulated a popular beach resort killing scores of trapped tourists and pensioners on holiday. Many were forced into the sea in order to escape the inferno and smoke. Some drowned. And all over the world floods have devastated regions. At least 200 perished in Japan and dozens have drowned in Southeast Asia in “unprecedented” floods. Heatwaves, too, have killed many. At least seventy people died here in Canada from extreme heat related ailments. But fires, floods, storms and heatwaves often become the spectacles that distract us from the unfolding catastrophe that underpins it all. And in an age of looming disaster this outright obfuscation is nothing less than criminal.

The corporate media has failed abysmally at preparing the public for a climate changed world, let alone reporting on it. According to a Media Matters survey: “Throughout the recent record-breaking heat wave that affected millions across the United States, major broadcast TV networks overwhelmingly failed to report on the links between climate change and extreme heat. Over a two-week period from late June to early July, ABC, CBS, and NBC aired a combined 127 segments or weathercasts that discussed the heat wave, but only one segment, on CBS This Morning, mentioned climate change.”

The effect can be seen in a recent Gallup poll where Americans cited 36 problems that affect them. The dangers of a rapidly warming climate were not among them. It appears fossil fuel think tanks and other extraction and animal agricultural industries, in the mendacious tradition of the tobacco industry, have not only succeeded in influencing politicians and muzzling the corporate press, they have effectively removed one of the greatest threats to humanity from the consciousness of the general public.

As long as these crises are seen as disconnected or isolated we will continue to sleepwalk into our own sticky fate. This summer drought and extreme heat in North America, Russia and Europe have devastated agriculture. Temperatures above the Arctic circle have exceeded 30°C (86°F) encouraging the massive release of intense, atmospheric warming methane, a climatic time bomb frozen beneath rapidly warming seas. These are the portents of a collective global catastrophe.

Modern civilization depends on a lot of things, but some have gone under the radar, at least in the West. Reliable sources of food is one of those things and many don’t think about it very often. Yet society, let alone a democratic one, cannot survive without it. Food shortages and price hikes often accompany political and social unrest as well as health crises. The environmental activist and writer Robert Hunziker wrote recently in Counterpunch about the looming catastrophe of agricultural “burn off” and its relation to the breakdown of democratic societies. “As for a reality check, climate change is already forcing eco migration in parts of Asia and throughout the eastern/southern Mediterranean region,” he wrote. “It’s already started fueling fascism.”

It may be cynical or even conspiratorial thinking to suggest that the corporate media is obscuring our collective predicament on purpose. But a media that parrots lies of the establishment elite, ones that get us into war or fail to hold political leaders, corporations or the military to account, must at least be looked at with healthy skepticism and caution. Right now it seems it is more tantalizing to report endlessly on the tweets of an orange tinted buffoon in the Oval Office, or a woman named Stormy, or Putin’s soccer ball, or Russiagate, or what channel the First Lady watches rather than something that can wipe out all life on the planet.

Indeed, the corporate press has long served as a mouthpiece for the ruling moneyed class; and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that they see no benefit in reporting about our rapidly changing climate, biosphere collapse or agricultural failure. It simply doesn’t serve their interests or bottom line. But we’d be foolish to think they don’t see what is happening and care. They do, just not about us. Douglas Rushkoff recent piece in the The Guardian: “How tech’s Richest Plan to Save Themselves after the Apocalypse” should put any doubts about that to rest.

We cannot know if this summer’s record breaking heatwave in the Arctic will fire the infamous methane clathrate gun, or if global famine is on the horizon, or if fascism and war will be the result. But one thing is certain. It will be up to us to find out what is happening, because none of it will be reported by Fox News, CNN or MSNBC.

Kenn Orphan, July 2018

4 thoughts on “What Reporting Looks Like at the End of the World

  1. king1394

    As a child in the 1950s, I imbibed the idea of Superman flying in to save the day single-handedly. I recall that many of the disasters the world was saved from, such as alien invasions, were kept strictly secret, need-to-know matters, certainly not for publication in the media, and this was because the authorities did not want the people to panic in the face of imminent disaster .

    Strangely, in reality, it turns out that a lot of people are panicking but the media doesn’t want to report the looming disaster/s, because it might encourage the authorities to take action that would be uncomfortable for the perpetrators.

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  2. john turcot

    “The corporate media has failed abysmally at preparing the public for a climate changed world, let alone reporting on it.” Yes….Absolutely failed… but it has also succeeded in the sense that the corporate media is probably, (I have no proof) is mostly owned by the fossil fuel industry and its shareholders. As such, the media would be mandated by their capitalist shareholders to hold all negative climate change reporting under wraps.

    In essence, if there is blame to assign, why not attribute the blame to all of us, or at least to all those who have observed the effects of climate changes, but who have chosen not to say anything about it… That in my view accounts to about 99.99999 % of humanity.

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  3. PANinA

    “The corporate media has failed abysmally at preparing the public for a climate changed world, let alone reporting on it.”
    While failure to report on it is indeed a grievous shortcoming, I do not agree that it is the media’s mandate to prepare the sheeple for their self-inflicted demise. I found it very encouraging that 14% of young adults give overpopulation as their reason for not having children, the 11th most commonly cited reason, and I don’t think the media had anything to do with that! I just don’t think the attribution of blame or cause and effect is all that important any more; in fact, it only contributes to polarization and adversity.

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