Green Week’s Focus on Climate Journalism

The world is burning, yet the media stays silent. Green Week focuses on the marginalization of climate discourse by hosting a panel of activists and academics dedicated towards the promotion of environmental reporting. Read more for an overview of Green Week and an analysis of the upcoming panel.


The Environment Subcommittee, in collaboration with the University Environment Team and Transition St Andrews, is hosting an exciting slate of events for this year’s Green Week, which will be running from November 2nd to November 8th

To kick things off, Sir Ian Boyd of the Environmental Sustainability Board and Quaestor Derek Watson will discuss the University’s novel environmental strategy followed by Professor Dr. Weimann’s presentation on the inexorable connection between COVID-19 and a changing climate. As the two headline events for Monday’s “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” theme, they promise to delve into the intricate relationship between planetary and anthropogenic wellbeing and how St Andrews can ameliorate this broken relationship. 

For Tuesday’s “Media, Mayhem, and Mass Movements” theme there will be a panel on the complexities of climate coverage, a critical topic considering the prevalence of climate marginalization in corporate news streams. On Wednesday, there will be a StAndReuse Style Swap Shop followed by Climate Talks, two events that are aligned with the broader focus on climate justice and social justice. Thursday takes a more structural point of view by analyzing the virtues of our capitalist system and its unsustainable underpinnings, a focus that will be interrogated and elaborated via an interview with Ikal Angelei and a talk on sustainable investments. 

Narrowing in from the systemic to the individual level, Friday’s focus on individual action is elaborated by an event on the sustainability of major sporting events as well as another edition of the StAndReuse Style Swap Shop. Saturday then refocuses on the necessity for systemic change via a conversation between Willie Rennie MSP and incoming Rector Dr. Leyla Hussein. Finally, on Sunday there will be a beach clean, capping off a full week of lively conversation, energizing debate, and personal growth with some much-need local action. 

Too often, the climate crisis is buried under flashy (yet ultimately hollow) headlines or misconstrued in a combative debate between a climate denier and climate scientist.

Considering UnEarth’s belief that the “environment should dominate public discourse” and concomitant mission to “[uproot] that complacent status quo,” Tuesday’s focus on climate coverage and environmental journalism is especially relevant. Too often, the climate crisis is buried under flashy (yet ultimately hollow) headlines or misconstrued in a combative debate between a climate denier and climate scientist. Instead of occupying the center stage, climate change tends to be marginalized and presented as a moot point rather than an inconvertible fact endowed with near-universal scientific support.

On the one hand, this is certainly a product of for-profit journalism, which pushes “loud” stories in order to garner more clicks and subsequent revenue. On the other hand, the dire lack in environmental reporting can be attributed to the failures of climate communication, which has been hijacked by fossil fuel companies and exacerbated by a web of climate denial organizations. This has become manifest in a confused and sclerotic public, which is unsure about the science and equally uncertain about the issues. 

As such, it’s absolutely vital that mainstream media sources start urgently communicating on climate change.

As such, it’s absolutely vital that mainstream media sources start urgently communicating on climate change. To be sure, it seems like the tide is slowly but surely turning. The Guardian has launched a “Climate Pledge” that place a premium on climate reporting and independent environmental journalism, while The New York Times consistently highlights climate stories and makes its readers aware of key learning materials. More recently, The Atlantic launched a “Weekly Planet” newsletter that covers the most pressing climate issues in an accessible and digestible manner. From an anecdotal perspective, climate change is receiving much more attention on social media, a likely byproduct of the youthful upsurge in climate activism. 

These slow but salient shifts did not happen in a vacuum, however, as climate organizations and passionate eco-conscious individuals held media companies to account. One of these actors is End Climate Silence, an organization dedicated to pressuring journalists and media organizations to not only increase their climate coverage but to also make it a staple of their non-environmental reporting. Climate change is not a purely scientific phenomenon, rather it is inherently social and implicated in all facets of our civilization. It should, as End Climate Silence contends, catalyze a categorical shift in journalism so that all news falls under the “climate umbrella.”

Tuesday’s panel on the complexities of climate coverage is stacked with some of the key individuals advocating for the promotion of climate journalism and environmental reporting.

Tuesday’s panel on the complexities of climate coverage is stacked with some of the key individuals advocating for the promotion of climate journalism and environmental reporting. Firstly, Genevieve Guenther, End Climate Silence’s founding director, will be joining the panel and delving into her work on fighting corporate media’s climate marginalization. Joining Dr. Guenther is Isabel Hilton, a London-based writer, broadcaster, founder and CEO of China Dialogue, a fully bilingual site dedicated towards fostering climate cooperation with China. Accomplished academic Dr. James Painter will also be participating in the panel, offering insights on his research into media portrayals of extreme weather events, animal agriculture, climate change, climate skepticism, and the challenges of climate journalism. Lastly, Aruna Chandrasekhar, an award-winning environmental journalist, will discuss her work on corporate accountability, climate change, indigenous rights and resistance, environmental law, energy, conflict, gender, and public healthy.

As we continue to emit bounties of planet-warming greenhouse gases and smash through biological boundaries, it is vital that the media begin reporting on the crisis of our times with urgency and foresight. Tuesday’s panel is representative of those people who are helping realize this tectonic shift in the journalistic landscape, affording us with a critical window in their work and an opportunity for engagement. UnEarth urges all those who have the time to sit in on this panel and to participate in Green Week as a whole. We’ve done enough waiting, the time for action is NOW!

Full Green Week Schedule and Event Links

Covid & Environment: https://fb.me/e/4vbu4xFSV

Covid & Climate: https://fb.me/e/1EROKdu5O

St AndREUSE Style Swap (1): https://fb.me/e/2UkdCAORk

Complexities of Climate Coverage: https://fb.me/e/7joozui94

Climate Talks: https://fb.me/e/cY6Iysg0F

Ikal Ang’elei Interview: https://fb.me/e/1PAVSj0Wo

Investing in a Sustainable Future: https://fb.me/e/4W6AkmITy

Sustainability and Sporting Events: https://fb.me/e/fiRoIDtgH

St AndREUSE Style Swap (2): https://fb.me/e/1mwr27caU

Climate Cafe: https://fb.me/e/3RfWxOY5m

Willie Rennie MSP and Dr Leyla Hussein: https://fb.me/e/1i6hbSffI

Art by Claire Pei

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