Putting a Positive Slant on a Critical and Controversial Issue (Climate Change)
I recently failed to publish an essay entitled ‘A Balmy Approach to Climate Change’ in a number of online and print magazines, but I have not given up, which is why I am not publishing it here. Instead what I propose to do is critique the whole thing in a way that no conventional news article could or would do. Specifically discussing alternate approaches to choosing what news stories to follow and ways of interpreting that news subjectively vs objectively.
What’s controversial about news stories to me, particularly ones relating to climate change, is the way they’re presented and the way they’re presented is often woefully lacking in substance, which makes me feel (and I don’t think I’m alone) like I can’t do anything about it. Except, of course, if I can; which is to limit my exposure to certain information (negative), while increasing my consumption of other information (positive) in order to boost my productivity (creativity) and make more informed decisions.
For many people, productivity comes from a sense of well-being, which leads back into productivity. It is possible to become productive simply by doing something, anything, which gradually increases energy towards more productivity. As individuated units of consciousness, what we think affects the larger consciousness system, which in turn affects us and the planet as a whole.
I wouldn’t be able to continue this article unless I provided some examples
Advice for healthy, receptive minds
The aim of this article is not to administer advice, but to cultivate a frame of mind conducive to interpreting news in a productive way. Not passive but active, which is what most news does anyway, motivating the audience towards action as well as arresting them. News moves us, but also holds us in arrest or awe, especially if the news presents a negative outcome. This isn’t just the result of objectivity, of presenting the facts as they are. It is a lazy, mismanagement of the truth that lies concealed beneath every event, otherwise this supposed objectivity would offer solutions, or at least suggestions, just as it is said, ‘everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not yet the end’… and it isn’t. Rather we are still in the middle of it, and what we think and do from now on will determine, out of all the possibilities, the probability of one thing happening over another.
There is power in how we interpret news and events in general. More than how it is presented, it is the situation itself that carries the information. That is, all perspectives and all resulting positions are contained within it. If a thing is true, the situation will tell us, but if the situation is not interpreted in a self-reflective (introspective) way, the resulting story will be incomplete and often skewed, if not consciously then unconsciously.
Everyone has emotions and dramatic events tend to effect everyone in about the same way. The bigger the event, the larger the effect (see https://noosphere.princeton.edu/science2.html and https://www.wired.com/2012/04/the-global-consciousness-project/). It’s hard for anyone to be objective, but in an attempt to do so, reporters and the media in general, often overlook the meaning and significance of an event in favour of its appearance. The appearance often presenting the negative aspects at the expense of the positive (if any). This works in the reporting of a car crash, where everything is fine one minute and the next not. But even in a car crash there is something constructive, for instance, how to avoid the contributing factors to car crashes. The same can be said of climate change, but unlike a car crash we can still hit the brakes, because just as it is hard to believe that these events can happen so fast, it is also hard to believe that they are out of our control.
The responsibility of an informed populous
The media has always favoured the sentimental over the inspirational, the negative over the positive. Telling the bad news before the good as per the golden rule of journalism i.e. ‘if it bleeds, it leads’. This approach makes for more engaging reading, but what makes for good reading/ ratings is not what makes for healthy people, healthy minds or a healthy planet.
While it is irresponsible for reporters, writers and producers to present unbalanced, uninspiring news stories, it is also irresponsible for us as readers to consume and gravitate towards these stories, unless there is something constructive in them, or something constructive that we can get out of them.
I myself gravitate to more exciting subject matter, but catch myself before I drift into the negative, extreme and destructive, take the recent (June 2021) partial collapse of the Surfside building in Miami for instance. This was and is an important event for the friends and families of the people involved, but it is not something I needed to know about. I am not callous or dismissive, I just don’t want to see those pictures, just like I don’t want to watch things with a lot of graphic or realistic violence.
It is the same with climate change. It is our responsibility to demand and align ourselves with a solution, just as it is the responsibility of governing bodies and those in the environmental sciences to come up with that solution. These are the kinds of stories we are drawn to for different reasons than the ones we enjoy watching or reading for leisure or a thrill. ‘If it bleeds, it leads’ is not a response to what the people want. It is a trick to sell newspapers, because it is human nature to look, but immediately regret looking. To be curious, but to pay for that curiosity in discomfort.
The headlines: “Man dies in car crash, so someone else doesn’t have to,” or “woman gives her life in childbirth in order that her baby may live” do not grace the pages of newspapers, even though they are not any less true than the bleak, matter of fact headlines that appear in their stead. In fact they are more true. They are true in the way that the majority of people will actually experience the situation.
As in the law of relativity, they each have their own subjective experience, their own slant on things, but they also have a shared universal ground of being which consistently favours the good over the bad, life over death, otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten this far.