How often do you see the news on climate change?
Observing and sometimes complaining about the weather is part of Minnesota culture. Here is my question to the readers. How often do you see information about climate change in mainstream media or social media?
Take Minnesota as an example. Most of central Minnesota was abnormally dry or in moderate drought when I checked the Drought Monitor on Nov. 7. Just to our south, the rest of Minnesota is in moderate, severe or exceptional drought. The number of people living with drought is 4,437,125. The drought monitor is updated weekly.
Drought news tends to be part of weather reports, and it is rare for correlation or causation related to climate change to be included.
Elsewhere in the world, countries and leaders meet at COP27. COP27 is the climate conference in Egypt where most of the countries of the world come together to discuss how to protect the climate from extreme changes.
The takeaway from COP27 so far is that the Earth is warming rapidly, seas are rising and the number of extreme weather events is increasing.
Meteorology Professor Marshall Shepherd said of climate change: “It’s here.
The United States is a major contributor to climate change, but not necessarily to the discussion. Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development, wrote an article for the November issue of TIME. He lives in Bangladesh and says their news includes reports on climate change in daily headlines. He states that Bangladeshis are affected by climate change because people live near the Indian Ocean and between the two rivers Ganges and Brahmaputra. Floods, cyclones (hurricanes) and rising sea levels affect them directly. According to Huq, “Most news outlets – television, radio, print and digital – carry climate stories regularly. And they play the story big…[with] climate-informed stories at the top of their shows and… on popular talk shows.
Huq’s research reveals that “climate stories still accounted for just 1% of total news coverage by ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News” in the United States in 2021.
Huq admits that strong and continuous reporting on climate change is not the only thing that will change mindsets, but “they are essential for our chances of turning the tide before it’s too late”.
Yes, the media are responsible. But part of that responsibility lies with the reading public. I see myself on both sides. As a writer, I’m passionate about the environment, but I don’t write about it every month. As a reader, I read about the environment, but sometimes I faint when I hear bad news again. And while it’s true that the human brain can only accept so much bad news before it feels overwhelmed, maybe I need to click and read more regularly for ways to help.
I hate to be the person to spoil your good mood, but we’re in a sticky situation. According to the EPA, transportation (27%), electricity generation (25%) and industry (24%) are the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels.
We have to do something, and there’s no need to buy solar panels (although that’s not a bad idea). Here are some ideas open to discussion.
- Lobby legislators.
- Let companies know that their environmental mission is good or needs changing.
- Apply for a Minnesota Lawns to Vegetables grant to convert lawn to native plants and shrubs.
- Change social media algorithms by clicking on articles about climate change.
Minnesotans love to talk about the weather. It is not such an exaggeration to speak of climate change.
— That’s the opinion of Linda Larson, a resident of St. Joseph. She is the author of “Grow It. Eat It,” which won a national award, and “A Year In My Garden.” His column is published the second Sunday of the month; she welcomes comments at [email protected]