Letters to the Editor: Why climate journalism needs to give readers a reason to hope
By Bob Henson
The San Juan Record – The following editorial is written in response to the recent editorial, “Climate journalism needs new blood,” published in the August 12 issue of the San Juan Record. The editorial was authored by Jeff Tritre, a senior writer for the New Haven Register, and co-authored by Ken Ward, a contributing editor to the Green News. Although this editorial was the first I read, I was deeply moved by its content. It touched upon a number of important issues and questions in journalism, environmental studies and science that I feel needs to be addressed in a serious way.
The editorial states that the most egregious shortcomings in climate reporting come from the top of the chain, such as the EPA, the U.S. Congress and its climate and energy policies, and the U.S. media. I think the author has a point, but I also think the fault lies at the feet of those top in positions of power and responsibility who claim to be accountable to the public.
One way to understand the role of those responsible for the climate and energy crisis is to look at the fossil fuel industry. The top executives in this industry have a vested interest in keeping the public uninformed and misinformed. It takes a very large number of dedicated public servants to keep the fossil fuel industry going with a constant stream of misinformation and scare stories.
The first thing that has to be clear is who the top executives are at the fossil fuel industry. They are the fossil fuel industry. Not an industry that exists but has been taken over by powerful, and frequently highly influential, private corporations.
And when the fossil fuel industry is asked to explain and defend its public policy (that’s what companies like ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers are paid to do) they do more to obfuscate the truth than to tell a transparent and straight-forward story.
Another layer, of course, is the politicians in the U.S. Congress who are