EARTH DAY: Activists Block Newspapers Over Climate Coverage

“The more we threaten the fossil fuel status quo, the less the media covers it,” says one U.S. climate scientist.

Extinction Rebellion activists form a blockade at the entrance of a newspaper printing facility in New York City on Friday. (Extinction Rebellion NYC)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

A group of climate campaigners on Friday blockaded the entrance of a printing plant in New York City in an effort to hamper the distribution of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other corporate-owned newspapers to protest their failure to cover the planetary emergency with “the frequency it deserves.”

The activists, operating under the banner of Extinction Rebellion, stressed in a statement that the blockade was targeted not at individual journalists, but “at the board of directors and senior management at these institutions that determine what to include and exclude in each publication.”

“Extinction Rebellion stands behind the right to free speech and a free press, and views the breaking of certain concrete mundane laws as a public plea for societal change,” the statement reads. “The climate and ecological crisis is already here — destroying people’s homes and livelihoods with extreme weather, droughts, and fire — yet governments and corporations, influenced by mass media corporations, are complacent by continuing to ignore the root causes of the crisis and the dire situation humanity is facing.”

The demonstration singled out News Corp, The New York Times Company, and Gannett — which respectively own the Journal, the Times and USA Today — for “enabling the government’s gaslighting of the public” by burying critical climate stories below the fold or in later pages. The outlets have also come under fire for plastering fossil fuel company ads alongside their coverage and actively perpetuating climate disinformation.

Such failures, the campaigners argued, make it “easy for government to act like the climate and ecological crisis is years away, ignore scientists’ urgent calls to action, and refuse to take the steps we need to start transforming our systems from finite and fragile to strong and resilient.”

“They must be clear about the extreme cascading risks humanity now faces, the injustice this represents, its historic roots, and the urgent need for rapid political, social, and economic change,” the activists continued. “This includes more front-page coverage of the climate emergency.”

The demonstration came as scientists and youth climate activists around the world, marking Earth Day, engaged in rallies and non-violent civil disobedience to condemn their governments’ continued support for fossil fuel production as accelerating warming wreaks havoc across the globe.

“This is not a ‘happy Earth Day,'” Swedish activist Greta Thunberg tweeted Friday. “It never has been. Earth Day has turned into an opportunity for people in power to post their ‘love’ for the planet, while at the same time destroying it at maximum speed.”

U.S. climate scientist Peter Kalmus, an expert who has taken direct action in recent days as part of a growing worldwide mobilization, wrote Thursday that “the more we threaten the fossil fuel status quo, the less the media covers it.”

“Our experience with the global Scientist Rebellion was almost no media coverage, and then only a little after it had already gone viral,” Kalmus added. “The revolution will not be televised.”

An online database unveiled earlier this week shows that financial institutions in G20 countries — many of which have pledged meaningful action to combat runaway warming — provided 2.5 times more financing for oil, gas, and coal projects than clean energy between 2018 and 2020, yet another example of governments’ refusal to heed the increasingly dire warnings of climate scientists.

“The truth is, we have been poor custodians of our fragile home,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement Friday. “Today, the Earth is facing a triple planetary crisis. Climate disruption. Nature and biodiversity loss. Pollution and waste.”

“This triple crisis is threatening the wellbeing and survival of millions of people around the world,” Guterres continued. “We need to do much more. And much faster. Especially to avert climate catastrophe.”

Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.


5 comments for “EARTH DAY: Activists Block Newspapers Over Climate Coverage

  1. Sam
    April 23, 2022 at 11:42

    I agree with citizen activism in order to make the vast majority of people aware of the truth about what’s going on. Yes, the IPCC lies when it says we have enough time to avoid “catastrophe.” This is a western-based prejudice, meaning that the US and EU ostensibly have more time than those underdeveloped nations, who are suffering right now , but even that perspective is deeply flawed.

    Catastrophe is certainly here, now, and traveling as a wave across the planet, for many years now. Famine, drought, winds, rains, floods, sea-level flooding of entire communities, and even war. For instance, the Syrian revolution started peacefully because of the effects of Global Warming on Syrian Agriculture.

    But most importantly, and not mentioned in the article is the fact that none of these groups, however much their backing by scientists and engineers, do not help the situation by refusing to define a Technical Solution.

    It’s easy to point our fingers at others and say Government and Corporatists must take action. But what action? How can a gaggle of people who have little scientific understanding of technology come up with the necessary technical direction, other than a piecemeal hodgepodge of different technologies, most of which still lie in the future? Writing R&D project proposals and funding investigations into “new,” “better” technologies will not have the immediate impact we need.

    I thus urge the scientific/engineering/technical community to tell our leaders, “Look, the only comprehensive technically feasible approach available RIGHT NOW is the Green Hydrogen Energy Economy.”

    I’ve done my own technical feasibility study of this technology and find no show stoppers. Basically, the goal is to replace virtually all the energy we now use by burning fossil fuels. Both electricity and Thermal. For that, and splitting the energy generation 50/50 between Solar PV and Wind, we’d need about 2% the continental land area for Solar PV, and about 6% this surface area for Wind, with much of that wind coming from offshore. Thus, let’s say 5% of the continental land area.

    We currently use about 45% the continental land area for Agriculture, which provides a basic human need: food. But energy is also a basic human need, and isn’t it worth about 10% of the land we use for Food?

    Because of intermittency, we’d need to use Electrocells to make hydrogen from excess Green Energy, store that hydrogen, and convert some of it back to electricity. But not all of it, not the part that’s required by thermal processes such as those used to smelt iron ore, make cement, fertilizers, ammonia, etc. The Alkaline Electrocell has been in use for almost a hundred years, and it can be scaled up into the GW range, as they are doing in the Netherlands and Germany. This cell works in reverse, both as an electrolyzer to make hydrogen, with about 80% efficiency, and as a fuel cell to make electricity at about 60% efficiency. It also doesn’t require the exotic materials and metals that batteries require. As an aside, an Energy Life-Cyle analysis indicates that the Li-ion battery storage scheme does not have any advantages over a hydrogen system. That means, the idea that “batteries are more efficient than hydrogen” is false, no matter who says it.

    We’d need to store some of that excess hydrogen on a Daily Basis, and if we consider high pressure tank storage, we’d need about 100 Billion of commercially available tanks and we can store them in centers that are about the size of a standard Amazon warehouse (800,00 ft^2 X 50 ft high). We’d need about 65 of these buildings and if they were distributed evenly throughout the US, they’d be about 220 miles apart. Cost of ONLY the storage tanks would be up around $100 Billion.

    Our current GDP is $23 Trillion, and that of the world is about $84 Trillion. With such a comparison, the entire cost of the Green Hydrogen Energy Economy is a bargain, if only because of the unnecessary millions of lives and widespread damage to property and Agriculture that any delay will result in.

    You can’t burn batteries to smelt iron ore. We don’t need better batteries. Since hydrogen is the only comprehensive solution for both electricity and thermal, we get much more bang for our bucks when looking at the separate components, as described here.

    Finally, we’d need an extensive pipeline system to transport the hydrogen. One 36-inch diameter pipeline moving hydrogen represents ten times the power transmission in a 375 kVA three-conductor utility grid line. It would take only a couple minutes to begin hydrogen service to an area 1,000 km away.

    Much of the existing natural gas and petroleum pipeline grid can be re-purposed for hydrogen. Their rights-of-way alone are extremely valuable. “Hydrogen embrittlement of some metals” is not a showstopper, as some amateurs want us to believe. We can always build new systems with new materials, and there are existing hydrogen pipelines that have been operating for many years without problems. But still, re-purposing the use of existing infrastructure would cost only about 10 – 15% the cost of a new system, according to an executive white paper by Siemens.

    There are many more details, and I’d be willing to send my spreadsheet of these calculations, with references, to anyone interested.

    There are dark horses in the wing, for instance 4th generation fission nuclear plants and some novel approaches to fusion energy. They are not here and now, and so for our purposes pie in the sky. We must start building the Hydrogen Economy now, and it’s the duty of the Scientific/Engineering community to satisfy itself with the viability and details of the Hydrogen Economy and demand that our leaders start paying the engineers. At present, our political and corporate institutions are failing us, as these protestors believe, and it would help cause behind such protests immensely by recommending just what they want these leaders to do.

  2. RAS
    April 23, 2022 at 11:30

    I just have to scratch my head amazement! Science has known about global warming for at least 40 years. Mr. Gore even caused a film to be produced as a warming. Essentially nothing has been done. The redoubtable Greta Thunberg even traveled by sailboat to deliver her message to the world. No one really listened to this child. I’m 100% behind the demonstrators but they are expecting people whose livelihood is wrapped up in perpetuating the problem to come up with a solution. The people who pull the strings don’t care about demonstrators; democracy is but a myth that only assuages the masses. The solutions are out there. The answer some may say is spending $70,000 or more on an electric vehicle. That’s fine–but few of us have money like this to spend on a vehicle. Campaigning for a four day week would take millions of cars off the road for one day. Since higher speed requires more gas, installing governors on vehicles would save fuel. Taxing SUVs at a higher rate would limit these gas guzzlers on the road. In short–control production of oil usage. Production is based on demand. This would decrease as well.

  3. CanitReallybeSo
    April 23, 2022 at 08:30

    “Is it really a good idea to blockcade the presses ”

    Evaluation is always a function of purpose.

    If the purpose is deflection, then at least in the short-term it can be a really good idea.

    Where as projection is almost always a really bad idea – although quite popular.

  4. Duane
    April 23, 2022 at 07:19

    Is it really a good idea to blockcade the presses with the goal of convincing the publishers to promote your message more prominently? If I were a publisher and faced with that tactic, I might consider it a form of extortion.

  5. Aaron
    April 22, 2022 at 20:07

    The media now serves one master – Zelensky and his partners in the military-industrial complex, period. All else is ignored.

Comments are closed.