John Broder had this remarkable sentence in his Sunday New York Times dispatch from Durban:
Effectively addressing climate change will require over the coming decades a fundamental remaking of energy production, transportation and agriculture around the world — the sinews of modern life.
This is uncharacteristically blunt for the Times. It reflects a worldview that is generally not reflected in their overall coverage, as I discussed in “The New York Times Abandons the Story of the Century and Joins the Energy and Climate Ignorati.”
Broder’s point is that the UN process is simply not up to the task of addressing the climate problem:
It is simply too big a job for those who have gathered for these talks under the 1992 United Nations treaty that began this grinding process.
“There is a fundamental disconnect in having environment ministers negotiating geopolitics and macroeconomics,” said Nick Robins, an energy and climate change analyst at HSBC, the London-based global bank.
Unfortunately, most economics ministers are pretty clueless about the subject. That said, I’ve never been a big fan of the current process, which requires near-unanimous consent by nearly 200 countries.
What’s most blocking action, from my perspective, isn’t the process so much as the failure of the media and policymakers here and around the globe to realize that failing to address climate change will lead to an even bigger remaking of what’s left of modern life in a world of 10°F warming (see An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces“).
Inaction will create the almost impossible task of feeding 9+ billion in “the face of a rapidly worsening climate.” And avoiding mass starvation and general chaos will certainly require a fundamental remaking of the world. The NYT‘s science reporter Justin Gillis gets this, as you see in articles like “Food Supply Under Strain on a Warming Planet” and “Global Warming Hinders Crop Yields, Study Finds.”
We cannot escape fundamentally remaking the sinews of modern life over the coming decades — in a sustainable way if we act on climate and in a catastrophic way if we don’t. Now is the time for major media outlets like the New York Times to remake their coverage to inform the public of this far more clearly and unambiguously.
- Lonnie Thompson on why climatologists are speaking out: “Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization”