Until today, the powerful language in the latest climate-change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change generated scant coverage, and little or no demand from reporters for government reactions.
Coverage of any kind was meager yesterday, as I pointed out in my previous post. Today, some others caught up, running stories from The Associated Press or writing off of the IPCC report and press release. But aside from the handful of reporters who went to Yokohama for the release of the report, nobody was doing much original reporting.
I found one example of the kind of story I was looking for when I opened The New York Times today. There Coral Davenport wrote a news analysis reporting that the new data puts pressure on the Obama administration to act. She gets comment from House Speaker John A. Beohner, whose spokesperson says he "doesn't see any real signs of support" for strong action on climate change.
He might be right, and part of the reason might be because not enough reporters are demanding answers from the administration, Congress, and foreign governments. Simply by asking, Davenport forces Todd D. Stern, whom she identifies as the State Department's chief climate-change negotiator, to make painfully clear how little interest the administration has in responding, whatever the president might say about climate change. "The report makes clear the urgency for strong action to reduce emissions and build greater resilience," he tells Davenport. Sounds good so far. But then he "made clear that there was no chance that the United States would finance most of any climate adaptation fund with taxpayer dollars. 'The fiscal reality of the United States and other developed countries is not going to allow it,' he said.
Get it? There is urgency for strong action–but fiscal reality is not going to allow it. So–apparently not so urgent after all.
Others should be knocking on Stern's door to make him say that again and again. And on the door of Secretary of State John Kerry, who got away with merely issuing a 196-word statement. And even that contradicted Stern. Where Stern said the fiscal reality prevented any substantial response, Kerry said "you can't deny the reality. Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy."
Let's get our message together, fellas. The boss says we can't deny the reality that urgent dramatic action is necessary to preserve our way of life. His negotiator says the reality is that the U.S. will not fund most of any response with taxpayer dollars.
Where is the press, which should be demanding to know what the reality is, or what the pseudo-reality inside the State Department looks like? Are we going to let these guys off the hook?
Every scrap of information about Malaysia Flight 370 is being scrutinized for hours by panels of analysts on cable news and across the Internet.
Could we take just one or two members of the Malaysia 370 press corps and put them on climate change?
Which will be the bigger story next month, next year, or 10 years from now?