The fight of (and for) our lives

The CN&R joins The Nation and other news organizations to buoy reporting on the climate crisis

A dozen years ago, the CN&R launched a weekly section committed to covering environmentalism in the North State.

Chico and the surrounding communities have given us a wealth of subjects from which to choose over the years. Name a local sustainability leader, organization or effort and chances are we’ve written about it in Greenways. As of this writing, 657 stories have been published in that section of the newspaper. Meanwhile, countless other environmental-themed topics have been featured in Newslines and as cover stories. Five years ago, our series on the drought was honored with a statewide award for best environmental coverage.

All that is to say, this newspaper recognizes the media’s role in the climate crisis.

We’ve long known that heat-trapping greenhouse gases were harming the planet and jeopardizing life as we know it. As journalists, we want to be part of the solution by underscoring the importance of curbing emissions and the consequences of ignoring scientists’ warnings about what might occur should the status quo continue.

We’re talking about increasing extreme weather events, glacial melt, drought, famine, rising seas, species extinction, coral reefs dying, etc. Climate change was driven home for some people following the Camp Fire—a disaster worsened by years of drought and extreme heat attributed to our warming planet.

Climate change poses an existential threat to every life on Earth. This isn’t hyperbole. Scientists have spent decades studying its effects. So has our government. Fifteen years ago, a U.S. Pentagon report outlined the national security implications: climate-driven disasters causing the world’s populations to turn on each other while securing food, water and energy.

Sadly, skepticism remains and inaction (and regression) is the result. Case in point: the Trump administration rolling back environmental regulations and pulling the United States from the Paris Agreement at a time when climate action is more significant than ever.

Part of the problem is that the media have not covered climate change as the most significant and pressing issue of our lifetime. We hope that’s changing. This week and next the CN&R is participating in the Covering Climate Now project (look for the logo throughout the paper), a collaboration of hundreds of news organizations led by The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review to increase and improve coverage of the issue. It coincides with the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on Monday (Sept. 23).

Joining the project is our way of recommitting to our longstanding coverage and also acknowledging that we must do more.