Journalists Must Take a Role in Global Warming Battle

Hiker in West Virginia.

In mid-October, I represented The Wilderness Society at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Roanoke, Va. The conference included several sessions on global warming issues.

It was no surprise that R.K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Nobel-prizewinning panel whose report warned the world about the impacts of global climate change, had some sobering words for environmental journalists gathered there.

In a keynote address, Pachauri talked about the media’s role in getting the word out on global climate change. He urged reporters to stress the day-to-day relevance of global warming to their readers and listeners, and to help them focus on the future by emphasizing three key themes:

  1. Global warming is unequivocal, as is the scientific evidence that it is caused by human activity.
  2. Continued unabated, greenhouse gas emissions will produce even greater changes in the 21st century than in the 20th, with particularly harsh impacts on Asia, Latin America and Africa.
  3. Mitigation efforts can help offset global warming’s impacts. Stringent mitigation will cost only three percent more than no mitigation at all.

Pachauri stressed that human survival in an era of climate change is linked to that of the land and every other species. “There is no species in the world that is dependent on human beings,” he told a questioner. “Human beings, on the other hand, are dependent on every other species.”

As a member of The Wilderness Society’s climate team, I couldn’t agree more.

That’s why we’re focusing our global warming program on the public lands, all the species that call them home, and all the benefits they provide — clean air, clean water, recreation, and so much more — to human communities.