Saturday, November 04, 2006

Stop Climate Chaos event Sat November 4th Trafalgar Square

A newsletter arrives informing me of the upcoming day of events to tackle climate change . This comes a week after the special reports from the BBC’s rather fabulous environmental correspondent Roger Harrabin. This includes a special on BBC News 24 about the gradual drowning of Bangladesh. There is an awareness that it will be the nations of the poorest people (the developing world) who will be most drastically affected by climate change and sea level rise. They are the very people least able to cope with the consequences.

Here’s the perverse thing. There is more coverage of climate change in the western media than in the very areas which seem to be most in danger. Here I should make an exception for the Bangladeshi media. Of the channels which I have access to, most do at least ‘keep it real’ in terms of concentrating on issues affecting the country itself, whilst also noting world events. They also score plus points for having programming dedicated to rural issues and that way of life.

In a way, Bangladeshi TV reminds me of where Indian TV used to be in relation to its diaspora in the 90’s. Without the corporate yoof culture of MTV et al, and without the monied Middle class able to ride roughshod quite so much over the needs of the majority of people struggling to survive as in India, there are dozens of programmes on folk songs, dramas and religious programmes.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has - at least notionally - agreed to work towards a watered down form of Kyoto. Not that you’d know it from monitoring the Indian media. Instead, CNN-IBN covers the festival season or feel good coverage. It deigns to report on the outbreaks of Dengue Fever and Chikungunya in Delhi and Tamil Nadu, this feels like a minor victory (or Wicktery as they call it), as what its REALLY wound up by is the Channel 4 programme exposing thefts of data from call centres.

What it would much rather concentrate on is the showbiz and fashion news. Aspirational doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Why not fly to work instead of sitting in those boring old traffic jams surrounded by these horrendous poor brown people?

A search for climate on their website reveals that so far the only item they have on climate, apart from an obscure article on the effect of climate change on frogs, is one sneering at religious beliefs in weird weather presaging the end of the world.

Religion and faith propound the fact that out-of-turn weather is often a prophecy of bad things to come. So does the recent change in the climate with floods in the desert, snow in summer and overflowing rivers forebode disaster?…

However, while faith and foreboding go hand in hand, reason becomes a casualty.

"Scientists have said in so many words that its because we are not looking after the world that weather is going against us. And instead of caring for the environment and doing some thing constructive about it, people believe in such stupid things. Its very strange," says Sanal Edamaruku of the Indian Rationalist Association.

Doomsday prophecies have been around for decades cutting across religious barriers. And while the weather Gods play their little sport human beings are playing along.

So why aren’t the Indian media giving more prominence to climate change?