Two articles in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald really encapsulated for me how reprehensible the mass media is, and how mindless and pathetic we, its consumers, have become. Strong words, I know, but please bear with me.
The first article titled Spot the Moral in the Fairy Story was about the Kate Middleton topless photo scandal that dominated the news last week. This "story" recieved more coverage than any other news event of the week, with people weighing in from all sides with their opinions. What was a minor emabarassment for the royal family was portrayed as an issue of extreme social and political importance.
The article about the scandal dominated page 12 in the news review section of Saturdays SMH, with the picture above placed in the centre of the page. Now let me compare it to the shorter, far less flashy article that appeared underneath, titled Four-Degree Rise Demands 90-degree Rethink. This report by Ian Dunlop states that "in the past few weeks, melting of the Arctic sea ice has acclerated dramatically." Interestingly I did not read about this development ANYWHERE else in the media. It got not even a tiny fraction of the attention Kate Middleton's boobs received, despite the fact that it could spell the end of the world as we know it.
Some key points from the article:
* On current trends the Arctic will be ice-free all year by 2030 - events that were not expected to occur for another one hundred years. More concerning, the Greenland ice sheet this year has had unprecedented melting, adding to a trend that will substantially increase sea levels.
* Beyond the Arctic, the world is in the fifth year of a severe food crisis - largely climate change driven - that is about to become far worse as the full impact of extreme drought in the US food bowl works its way through the global food chain.
*The polar icecaps are one of the vital regulators of global climate; if the ice disappears, the absorption of more solar radiation accelerates ocean warming....This may initiate IRREVERSIBLE RUNAWAY WARMING.
*We know how to establish a genuine low-carbon economy, which would stave off the worst impacts of climate change, but it is too late for gradual implementation. It has to be set up at emergency speed. Yet we hear nothing of this from the political, business or NGO institutions that should be leading the response. Why?
Very good question. Why, indeed. Why aren't these issues treated with the urgency required? Why is the media saturated with inconsequential stories about Kate Middleton's breasts when "climate change has moved into a new and dangerous phase"? It's because of the fossil fuel companies that will lose money if sustainable energy is adopted (God forbid! Better to watch the world burn than lose your multi-million dollar pay cheque). It's the complete subjugation of politcal leaders of all stripes to big business, and it's ordinary people like you and me who allow ourselves to be brainwashed an anaesthetised by what passes as "news" in this shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture.
And if nothing changes soon, we're all royally screwed.
When global warming came for the polar bears
I remained silent
I was not a polar bear
*My novella Prude & Prejudice is free for the next five days (24th - 28th September)