Wake-up call: Time to put climate change back on the news agenda

When was the last time you can remember global warming being the top story on the evening news?

Yeah, I don't remember either.

The United Nations' international climate policy negotiations in Copenhagen back in 2009 was the last time that global warming was consistently front page news.

That seems strange, doesn't it? Particularly given that the United Nations has stated repeatedly that climate change caused by global warming is the "single biggest threat facing humanity today"!

Okay, I know, the end of the world is "so yesterday," right? We need new ways of telling the same story to keep it interesting. Climate campaigns have to ride waves of public interest at critical moments, as if somehow the stability of our biosphere were just "a story" or "a belief."

Some reporters have closely followed the science and accurately reported the biochemical realities of what is happening to the planet as the result of too much pollution that contains heat-trapping greenhouse gases being dumped into Earth’s atmosphere.

There is nothing hypothetical about it. All countries in the world agree that it's a crisis, yet they all are pointing their fingers at each other, effectively saying "I won't change unless you do first."

Meanwhile the evening news continues to show business-as-usual stories every day, with rarely a word about the climate crisis.

This is even more frustrating as we see increasingly extreme -- even record-breaking -- weather events and little, if any, connection being made to this internationally recognized cause.

Have you ever wished that a weather person on the news would "go rogue" and express his or her fears about all the extreme weather? Well, I guess the cool kids at Deep Rogue Ram felt that way too, because they have made a comedy sketch in which a "weathergirl goes rogue" and actually lays out the full scale and severity of what is currently underway.

I was so stoked to see my buddy Pippa Mackie show up in this YouTube video on my Facebook wall. She was so fantastic I literally laughed out loud. I shared it all over the place and so did a bunch of other people -- this rogue weathergirl went viral fast.

Thanks to this creative video, hundreds of thousands of people have been laughing and learning all at once.

Kai Nagata is sublime as the straight-faced anchorman trying to keep things on script. Apparently the fantastic Heather Libby from Tck Tck Tck helped write the sketch, so it’s no wonder that it's awesome, funny and terrifyingly accurate.

This video has re-inspired me to talk about climate change. Lately, I've been so focused on stopping oil spills locally that I haven't been talking as much about the big-picture reasons why we need to stop the growth of the tar sands. As the CEO of Enbridge was kind enough to point out recently, there is an international "energy revolution" underway; we should all more actively embrace the revolutionary shift off of fossil fuel energy that we need so urgently to make as a society.

If we don't talk about global warming, who will?

I think the next generation will be the ones to change our course. This latest video is part of an emerging youth movement that is ecologically literate and has a kickass sense of humour.

Speaking of inspiring youth, I’m excited by the recent efforts of the organization called "Power Shift".  It’s a great name that explains exactly what we need -- in more ways than one. They have a big conference coming up in Ottawa next month, which I’m looking forward to taking part in.

Let's all get re-inspired to see ourselves as part of the global climate movement.

We need to see more "rogue" weather reports, and news reporters too -- people who have the courage to cover the issue of climate change with the urgency it deserves. People who will tell the hard truths.

This isn't just a wake-up call for the news media that is acting like business-as-usual is still possible ... we all act that way. This is a wake-up call for all of us. 


Ben West is the Healthy Communities Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. 

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