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Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active

Media Supertanker Turning On Climate Action

News, Fake News and how to tell them apart
British newspaper editors, and other three-headed beasts, asleep at the wheel.

A recent review of UK newspaper editorials on climate change makes for interesting – we dare not yet say encouraging – reading.

The survey was a collaboration between Carbon Brief and Exeter University that analysed major newspaper editorials over the past decade. Broadly speaking, 

climate denial no longer sells papers, but flag-waving on green issues does.

The Changing Face of Climate Action

The report bears closer scrutiny, and there’s a lot of important nuance in the details. Some key points the authors flagged:

  • In 2011, most editorials about renewables framed them as ‘too expensive’. A decade later, most frame them as ‘good investments’.
  • The last mainstream media editorial to explicitly question climate science was in the Daily Telegraph in 2018.
  • 5x more editorials referenced the climate benefits of renewable energy v. those that referenced the climate benefits of nuclear power.
  • 110 editorials supported fracking, 26 opposed it. 
  • Right-leaning papers published 2x as many editorials criticising renewable energy (especially wind) as those praising renewables.
  • Between 2011-2021 there were 556 pro-climate action editorials, and 63 anti-climate action.

For fans of human civilisation, parents, or readers of the IPCC reports, this report is a mixed bag.

Good News or Bad News?

Whether you find it uplifting or depressing probably says more about you, than any volte-face on climate action by the British media.

  • Glass-Half-Full types will note all the trends are positive in terms of responsible reporting on the climate crisis.
  • Glass-Half-Empty types will note how painfully slow this change has been, with billionaire-owned papers the biggest and slowest of all.
  • See Through News, being of the Glass-At-50%-Capacity persuasion, merely reports that both of these are true.

So it seems that for the most part, the Media Heads of the Three-Headed Beasts remain an obstacle, and not a bridge, to carbon drawdown.