Climate change has become a lot more of a social issue in recent years and has created a divide within our society.
There are the activists who fight for change in our governments and are willing to be prosecuted for it and there are “climate change deny-ers” who believe it’s not as much of an issue as it’s made out to be.
But if it is such a pressing crisis, why doesn’t everyone care?
A key reason to why not everyone is outside Downing Street protesting could be the way the issue is presented to us in the media. The media controls the narrative for lots of social issues and is a major component in shaping our perceptions. The way we see the climate crisis reported, in effect, dictates how we will view its urgency. So if it not presented to us as a crisis we just won’t see it as one, unless we conduct our own further research.
Claire McDonald, an ex-journalist and campaigner at MumsForLungs believes the media conversation around climate change is not what it needs to be to bring change,
“I think the way climate crisis is reported in the news is very strange. If there was an alien or meteorite heading towards us, ready to collide in 10 years, there would be a lot of front pages dedicated to it, and pitchy headlines. Initially the story has been ignored, but recently it is definitely being covered more, but in a much more contextualised way.”
The coverage of climate change varies amongst the channels, some even making fun of the crisis. With the Mail Online calling Extinction Rebellion protesters bullies and completely trivialising the crisis. This doesn’t speak for all news channels, some understand that it is a crisis but still don’t report the urgency of it. Claire said,
“Instead of it being an “oh my god” news headline, which is what it requires, we are told small bits of the story. ‘Fire on the Yorkshire Moors in soggy April, towns decommissioned because they are going to flood.’ Climate change is mentioned in passing, if you’re lucky, but in a way that makes it seem like a foregone conclusion. You would expect that type of coverage AFTER lots of screaming front pages. That’s what I wonder – where’s the scream? Where’s the ‘Oh my god!’.”
So, the media narrative driving our perception on climate change could mean that we as a community don’t care but is that really the case? And if so, who is it that cares and who is it that doesn’t?
At climate change protests there is an overwhelming amount of young people involved, with Extinction Rebellion school strikes and 16 year old Greta Thunberg being a leading presence in the movement. It is young people who are campaigning for their future and often time we don’t see as many baby boomers holding the same view. Interestingly, however, I went out and asked whether people care about the climate crisis or not and their views didn’t seem to align with this theory.
Ruth, a 53 year old ex-scientist and primary school teacher has genuine concerns:
Rohan, a 20 year old architecture student thought there were other, more important issues to be focused on:
If there were a change in the way the climate crisis is reported, maybe there would be a change in the answers given by both Rohan and Ruth. Claire believes that the lack of informative reporting means we are not able to have an appropriate response to the urgency of the crisis and this could bring dire consequences,