Our climate is changing. Global temperatures are increasing. The effect on weather events, sea levels, endangered species and yes, human civilisation itself is likely to be profound. So one might have thought that our free and fearless press might give the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) a mention on its front pages today. But that thought would have been badly misplaced.
How bad is it? The BBC has reported “It's the final call, say scientists, the most extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures … Their dramatic report on keeping that rise under 1.5 degrees C states that the world is now completely off track, heading instead towards 3C … Keeping to the preferred target of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels will mean ‘rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’”.
That bad. Bad enough for two messages: “‘The first is that limiting warming to 1.5C brings a lot of benefits compared with limiting it to 2 degrees. It really reduces the impacts of climate change in very important ways,’ said Prof Jim Skea, who is a co-chair of the IPCC. ‘The second is the unprecedented nature of the changes that are required if we are to limit warming to 1.5C - changes to energy systems, changes to the way we manage land, changes to the way we move around with transportation.’”
Which papers carry this news today? Only the i Paper and the Guardian. Nothing from either the Telegraph or Times, despite both being allegedly upmarket titles, and both carrying several items on their front pages. Nothing from the supposedly left-leaning Mirror. Nothing from the Express, Mail, Sun, Daily Star or Metro.
So what is the hot news Du Jour, the story so important that it has knocked the future of the planet off the front pages? As if you need to ask. It is, of course, the Curse of Strictly.
The Express goes with “Married dancer and comic: ‘So sorry for drunken kiss’”. The Mail has “Cursed Again … Remorse of Strictly’s cha-cha-cheats”. Even the Telegraph covers the alleged story, telling readers “Strictly sorry: pair apologise for public kiss”. The Metro, Daily Star, Sun and Mirror all lead on the same theme.
And, so what? Strictly sells papers, and all that. They’re only giving the public what they want, free speech, editorial decision, we know our audience, the whole panoply of excuses will already be lined up. But keeping this news off the front pages matters for another reason, and that is the press’ tendency to bully broadcasters, especially the BBC.
As with the Phone Hacking Scandal, and more recently the taint of illegality around the 2016 EU referendum, the press will now claim that climate change is a Non Story, because they are not reporting it. So the broadcasters will be bullied into following suit.
But why would they do that? Simples. Most proprietors and editors don’t want to talk about it. It’s more their bag to feature yet another uninformed pundit - an “interpreter of interpretations” as James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, climate change denialist supreme, likes to style himself - to play the contrarian and reassure everyone that they can just carry on chucking carbon into the atmosphere as before.
This is beyond irresponsible. But it’s good for business. No change there, then.