The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Friday released another in its series of reports documenting how global warming is already affecting the climate of the earth and how it is likely to cause extinction of up to a third of all species of plants and animals. Even after being watered down by the governments of the United States, China (the two largest greenhouse gas emitters), and Saudi Arabia (the world's largest oil producer), the report paints a stark picture of the future, especially for the world's poorest people. After a short-lived rise in the production of food in the world, crop yields will plummet. Water supplies in Africa will dwindle, floods, droughts and disease will skyrocket in Asia, and people living in hurricane zones will notice an increase in storms and flooding. Polar bears, amphibians, and coral reefs will disappear.
Big deal. You'd think this would be front page news, but the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette deems it unworthy, and places it on page 2, behind a story about the failure of the Little Rock school board to fire the superindent of the district (a fellow who happens to be a chum of Demozette publisher Walter Hussman). Not too surprising--the Democrat-Gazette is a well-known right-wing rag; they gave the front page of last Sunday's editorial section over to the moronic global warming denial screed mentioned in the post just below this one. What about the so-called liberal media? On the morning after the report was released, CNN.com relegated the story to the bottom of their front page, but they managed to find room at the top of the page for a story about a 102-year-old who shot a hole-in-one. MSnbc.com is somewhat better, with an inconspicuous link to their coverage placed on the front page (I actually missed it the first time I looked). They apparently think that a story on the Chinese divorce rate is more important or more interesting--hard to say which. The New York Times web site buries the story far down the page, below an important report on the disposition of leftover statues of Saddam Hussein. (In fairness, the CNN and MSnbc sites gave the story a bit more play late yesterday--I didn't look at the Times web site until this morning--and that's the part of the point. This is too big a story to let it be buried by a lack of hits.)
I know people are suffering from "Global Warming Fatigue." I know the deniers have done an admirable job of painting Al Gore and global warming scientists as shrill loonies who are somehow using the fear of climate change as a way to make a buck. But news organizations have a responsibility to report news in a such a way that the most important, far-reaching news is prominent and easily accessible. If they can give us all the Anna Nicole coverage we so desperately crave, they can also leave vital stories on page one for longer than a couple of hours.