Updated with links!
The basic reason for climate change hasn’t changed. However, now we are seeing predicted consequences of climate change coming into reality. Notably in my mind were the recent announcements that Antarctic glaciers are now in a state of irreversible collapse guaranteeing at least 2m sea level rise eventually as well as methane releases starting occur in the Arctic.
I think the reasons that the status quo persists, even in light of news like this, are many fold and mutually reinforcing. Primarily, I see the main driver being private profit. There are still billions and billions to be made from fossil fuel extraction. There are still billions to be made shipping useless junk around the Earth for sale and consumption. Put simply, people are still getting very rich from the status quo and they will work to keep it that way committing vast sums of money into pressuring governments, running for government and, importantly, paying for advertising.
Advertising is easy to ignore. However, it pays for our broadcasters and media publishers on the TV, the Internet, Newspapers and Magazines. You don’t see adverts in the Guardian for window cleaners, you see them from banks, mobile phone companies and oil companies. These company are making big bucks and they aren’t about to start paying for journalists to expose the full humanitarian costs of oil wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lybia and Palestine. Equally they aren’t about to pay for journalists to write critically about the level of inaction on climate change and the predicted consequences. Editors know that advertising revenue may be withdrawn from their publication if they publish articles the advertisers don’t like and so they squash anything truly insightful entering public debate. Have a look what happened recently to Guardian journalist Nafeez Ahmed. Also, see some more www.medialens.org for details of the lies and omissions in todays press.
Now that we are seeing the depletion of conventional oil, even though there is still lots left, to continue to provide the energy backbone of the capitalist system, oil drillers are looking at harder to reach, more technologically difficult oil deposits in the form of fracking and tar sands. These deposits lie in heavily populated parts of the UK and other countries. Unfortunately, it will be easy for these drillers to drill. They have to deal with one or two land barons. They don’t have to deal with unified communities with a sense of their right to the land and a sense that the land they live on provides their livelihoods and food. They don’t have to deal with communities that have a connection with the land around them. They do not work it, they cannot access it, they cannot use it. In Scotland, land owners working under the Enclosures Act, violently evicted such communities.. People are now kept isolated and are in competition with each other (in a capitalistic sense) over money, cars, jobs and houses – all in limited supply.. These fractured and competing peoples learn through practice that food comes from supermarkets when you have money. You can then say to these people that we need fracked methane gas to use a feedstock for nitrogen fertilisers or we won’t be able to grow beans in Kenya for ASDA. People will then rally around the frackers and supermarkets saying “we demand our food”. This is why we do not see vast numbers of people rallying to defend their land – it’s not theirs and modern life does not demonstrate that food comes from the fields around them. People have become, in the work or starve jail that is capitalism, estranged from the land and earth around them. This is not their fault, but rather a testament to the efficacy of the miseducation provided by our governments and continued misinformation of the media.
Advertising gatekeepers of our information will have their say in any land reform debates taking place across media. They will seek to ignore specific pieces of the puzzle, like the one I have just put forward, and frame the debate in such a way as to make any change meaningless. They will not allow articles into wide circulation that address this issue of estrangement from the land. This is exactly why we haven’t seen any meaningful action to change society away from it’s dependance on fossil fuel and why the majority of people in the UK, in a recent poll, think the death toll in Iraq was under 10,000 (it was actually closer to 1 million). Before we have a press independent from the need of advertising revenue we will not be given the full picture on any issue and we will not see meaningful change to the capitalist status quo.
Fortunately, I think there are cracks beginning to appear in mainstream media. The lies are becoming too blatant and people are starting to take it upon themselves to search for better information on the internet. Wikileaks, Ed Snowden, Medialens, Nafeez Ahmed, Arundhati Roy, Vandana Shiva, Chomsky and The Rap News all provide critical analysis of the media and the status quo and are found all over the internet. People are looking and organising but it really does take people turning off the TV, Facebook, stopping buying newspapers and knowing the right questions to ask in order to find them, so unfortunately there is a long way to go. We should take the fight to the media as well as the government, oil barons and land barons. People aren’t being given the right information and we need to fight for it to be given in order for timely and meaningful change.