Now that we all agree... what will it take to get climate change treated like the crisis it is?

When, the story of the massive geo-engineering project off the coast of Haida Gwaii broke a few weeks ago, it became clear that the mainstream media is well past the need to offer a “balanced” view on the subject of climate science. The generally held view was that climate change is happening, but the acceptance was mundane. Climate change, they seemed to say, is an unfortunate reality but in this instance simply a problem belonging to people in a remote corner of the world as opposed to say, humanity.

Is this acknowledgement, tepid as it may be, a sign of progress in the conversation on climate science?

No way, says Wen Stephenson. The former editor at The Atlantic and The Boston Globe  has publicly called out his ex-colleagues in the media for their failure to acknowledge climate change for what is, a crisis. His article, A Convenient Excuse, published on October 31st, described the process of ‘coming out’ on the subject, risking his career and credibility as a journalist for the sake of his conscience, but more importantly, his children.

Stephenson says that if you accept climate change as a reality, you’ve got to accept that it is very much your problem, along with every other individual on the planet. You’ve also got to be willing, at the very least, to ask hard questions of yourself, your family and your friends about the appropriate course of action. Which is why he went so far as to name those friends of his seated at editor’s desks of major publications and outline their repeated failure to “cover the climate crisis as a crisis.”

As Stephenson points out, the world’s top scientists, energy experts and economists are vocal about their belief that we are heading headlong into catastrophe, and fast. Add Bill McKibben and 350.org to the mix, and that message becomes very loud indeed. Who is it that has to yell, before the Boston Globe, or CNN, or CBC for that matter, will report the sense of urgency with which they report on terrorism any other number of (sometimes so-called) crises?

It is doubtful that Wen Stephenson’s powerful essay will provide the push that editors need to change their ways, even if it does make them very uncomfortable. But Michael Bloomberg’s call to climate action may be much harder to ignore, much as, in his words, “you can’t ignore a forced evacuation when you’re the one leaving.”

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