Climate crisis: does journalism actually make a difference?
“Will this story make a difference?”
It’s a question journalists ask themselves all the time. The answer is rarely clearcut, and there is no shortage of stories that barely make a ripple. But there have been a number of occasions in recent years on the Guardian’s environment desk when the answer has been a resounding yes.
The media is part of a social nervous system, alerting the public to remote danger in the same way neurotransmitters tell the brain the tips of the fingers are being burned. We serve as amplifiers that enable weak or remote voices to reach a wide audience and centres of decision making. And, of course, we also have a role as watchdogs, holding political authority to account.
These roles – of transmission, amplification and investigation – are all vital elements in any effective response to the world’s environmental breakdown.
The Earth is an extraordinary piece of evolutionary engineering that has self-regulated itself for millions of years. That homeostasis is now being destabilised by human activities. Scientists tell us it is not too late to fix this, but we need to start the repair work urgently. Journalists can facilitate that.