Observing and sometimes complaining about weather is part of Minnesota culture. Here’s my question to readers. How often do you see climate change news on mainstream media or social media?
Let’s take Minnesota as an example. Most of Central Minnesota was abnormally dry or in moderate drought when I checked the drought monitor on Nov. 7. Just to our south, the rest of Minnesota is in either moderate, severe or exceptional drought. The number of people living with drought is 4,437,125. The drought monitor is updated weekly.
The drought news tends to be part of the weather report, and rarely is correlation or causation related to climate change included.
Elsewhere in the world, countries and leaders are meeting at COP27. COP27 is the climate conference in Egypt where most countries in the world meet to discuss how to keep the climate from extreme change.
The takeaway from COP27 so far is that the earth is warming quickly, the seas are rising and the number of extreme weather events are increasing.
Meteorology Professor Marshall Shepherd said of climate change: “It’s here.”
The United States is a major contributor to climate change, but not necessarily to the discussion. Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, wrote a piece for the November issue of TIME. He lives in Bangladesh and states that their news includes reports on climate change in the daily headlines. He states Bangladeshis are affected by climate change because the people live near the Indian ocean and between two Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. Floods, cyclones (hurricanes) and sea level rise affect them directly. According to Huq, “Most news outlets — TV, radio, print, and digital — run climate stories on a regular basis. And they play the story big…[with] well-informed climate stories at the top of their broadcasts and … in popular talk shows.”
Huq’s research finds that “climate stories still accounted for a mere 1 percent of total news coverage by ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News” in the U. S. in 2021.
Huq admits that solid and continual reporting on climate change isn’t the only thing that will change minds, but “it is indispensable to our chances of reversing course before it is too late.”
Yes, the media bears responsibility. But part of that responsibility lies with the reading public. I see myself in both camps. As a writer, I’m passionate about the environment, but I don’t write about it every month. As a reader, I read about the environment, but sometimes I zone out when I hear bad news again. And while it’s true that the human brain can only take so much bad news before feeling overwhelmed, maybe I need to click and read more regularly ways that I can help.
I hate to be the person who ruins your good mood, but we’re in a tight spot. According to the EPA, transportation (27%), electricity production (25%) and industry (24%) are the sources of most greenhouse gas emissions due to burning fossil fuels.
We’ve got to do something, and it doesn’t have to be buying solar panels (though that’s not a bad idea). Here are some ideas open for discussion.
- Lobby legislators.
- Let companies know their environmental mission is good or needs a change.
- Apply for a Minnesota Lawns to Legumes grant to convert lawn to native plants and shrubs.
- Change the social media algorithms by clicking on climate change articles.
Minnesotans love to talk about the weather. It’s not such a stretch to talk about climate change.
— This is the opinion of Linda Larson, a St. Joseph resident. She is the author of “Grow It. Eat It,” which won a national award, and “A Year In My Garden.” Her column is published the second Sunday of the month; she welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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