The Arctic’s on fire and it’s about time our media started focusing on what’s really important
Wildfires are burning in 11 regions across the Russian Arctic. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership.
The Arctic is on fire.
Newly released satellite images reveal “unprecedented” destruction from massive wildfires in Siberia, Alaska, and Greenland, reported The Independent today:
The pictures show forest fires and burning peat. They also reveal the extent of the damage the fires leave behind. In Alaska wildfires have already burned more than 1.6 million acres of land. Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast, said the amount of CO2 emitted by Arctic wildfires between 1 June and 21 July 2019 is around 100 megatonnes and is approaching the entire 2017 fossil fuel CO2 emissions of Belgium. Even with a sweltering heat wave blanketing much of North America for the last week, what’s unfolding right above us in the Arctic is the most alarming sign of the climate emergency.
Canada is an Arctic country. This story should be near the top of the news every night on every network and platform. Instead the headlines last week were dominated by debates over the healthiness of chocolate milk, thanks to Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s ludicrous and irresponsible attack on the new Canada Food Guide.
With the federal election just three months away, we have to do better. Last week, youth climate organizers held rallies outside CBC offices across the country demanding that our public broadcaster hold a leaders’ climate debate during the upcoming campaign. That’s a good start, but we should raise our expectations.
We should turn this entire federal election campaign into a climate debate. If CBC and the big corporate networks refuse to host a climate-specific leaders’ debate, independent media outlets can step up and do the job. At the riding level, local outlets and social movement organizations should take the initiative to convene climate debates, demand that candidates show up, and amplify the good and bad responses to help shape the national discussion. And of course there’s a battle to be waged on social media platforms and through independent publications, where our collective efforts can push climate justice to the top of the election agenda and push cheap personal smears and alt-right disinformation and xenophobia back into the gutter where they belong. MORE