The BBC was recently the subject of controversy, after their decision to omit the climate change episode of David Attenborough’s latest series ‘Frozen Planet’ from the international release. The BBC claimed, in response to the comments of climate change activists, that it is standard practice when selling a series abroad to drop certain episodes to help it sell. Countries such as the US will therefore see the climate change episode as an ‘optional extra’ alongside a ‘making of’ documentary – conveniently avoiding awkward questions, some think the US, in particular, should be asking. But apathy towards climate change is, in light of the financial crisis, taking over.
Despite expressing a desire in 2010 to be the ‘greenest government ever’, the coalition recently relaxed plans for a new climate change strategy. The Kyoto agreement will have to stand alone until 2020; China and the US will, of course, not be among the signatories there.
Ministers have sparked angst over their admission that by that time, the average citizen will be paying £280 annually in ‘Green Taxes’.
The impression given by the media is that financial security and green living are mutually exclusive, conveniently packaging both as ‘crises’. You have to pick one, because you can’t panic about two things at once. But panic doesn’t solve problems. Logic tells us that environmental and economic concerns shouldn’t have to be mutually exclusive.
We can’t expect Cameron to be passionate about climate change if we, as a public, are not. His job is to represent our concerns – and if the public is not concerned about climate change, he won’t be either. It is a disease of the media, spread to the public: the inability to sustain a reasonable level of concern for a long period of time. Ultimately, the media shapes the news to fit storylines for the sake of its readership; this is no problem in itself, but it means that a concern as universally important as climate change can become passé without ever having reached resolution.
The solution lies with the environmentalists; they need to turn climate change into the engaging, pressing problem that it was. It sounds crass; but why not sell it? If it’s so important, then think of a new way to highlight concerns. Moralising is all very well but in today’s society, everything is about entertainment value. Over-saturate your market and sales figures drop. It may not be an attractive feature of our society, but it doesn’t look likely to change for a good few years – which is more than I can say for our climate.