The stories making headlines are mostly important. They do need good coverage. There’s no question about that. But their importance pales in comparison with that of our ecological plight. No question about that either.
Ecological issues should be the headlines everyday. Ironically, the stories which do make the front page often have ecological bases which go unrecognized.
Many will disagree with my assessment. Understandably, they feel passionately about issues like the Iraq war. They can’t imagine any other story is as relevant as long as people in Iraq are dying. Yet I believe this reflects a simple lack of ecological awareness. Once one grasps the numbers of lives at risk as a result of looming ecological crises, one’s perspective shifts. Consideration of the potential impacts on global food supplies of climate change as well as the depletion of oil, natural gas, and aquifers is enough to make this clear. Factor in additional problems such as the mass extinction of species now playing out, and it’s impossible to retain any doubt about the media’s ecological blindness.
It’s bad enough so few discuss certain thorny but relevant environmental subtopics, but we’re not even seeing stories on the broadest global challenges likely to have pervasive and severe impacts in the coming decades.
The media need to wake up. Let’s wake them up. Letters to editors and comments under online articles are a good start. A great example was this comment by “Stilba” under an article by Naomi Klein on Common Dreams:
Not to be a downer, but little of this matters if our planetary life support system is kaput. I can’t even look at this “a better world is possible” stuff any more without thinking about that the whole way through. Sort of like a super-sized version of what Gandhi said about sanitation being more important than independence.
Stilba’s comment reminds me of a lesson I learned well in my days as a professional poker player. It came from David Sklansky, a pioneering poker and professional gambling theorist with an ability to see through and simplify many seemingly complex problems. The lesson was to focus on what’s truly important, those decisions that have major impacts rather than those which, while correct, have less long term significance. It has generalized easily to decisions concerning where to focus my writing and activism as an environmentalist. And it makes it easier to spot those instances, which are today unfortunately the norm, when the media focus on issues of relatively less importance.