Extinction Rebellion Protests at The Boston Globe for their Lack of Climate Crisis Coverage

Extinction Rebellion Protests at The Boston Globe for their Lack of Climate Crisis Coverage

Climate Activists demand that the Boston Globe and Boston area news media cover the climate and ecological crisis with the urgency required.

300 Globe articles reviewed for report “Climate Crisis Reporting at the Boston Globe: Give the readers what they want!”

BOSTON, MA — Local members of the international grassroots movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), marched to the offices of The Boston Globe to demand that the Globe fulfill its pledge to report the truth and take leadership in its coverage of the climate crisis.

XR Boston reviewed more than 300 articles in The Boston Globe between April 19, 2019 and September 5, 2020, for its report, “Climate Crisis Reporting at the Boston Globe: Give the readers what they want!,” using the Globe’s online archive. Their analysis shows that the Globe’s reporting has not communicated the urgency of the climate and ecological crises. Severe and extreme weather events are not linked to rising global temperatures and the extreme levels of carbon released into the atmosphere. Environmental racism has not been not covered very deeply, and climate science (including tipping points and runaway planetary heating) is underreported along with local, regional, and international environmental activism.

“The Boston Globe and all local news media have a duty to report on the crisis with the same urgency as the coronavirus. The climate and ecological crisis is a threat to all humanity, and each of our local communities. From sea level rise, coastal flooding, hotter summers and warmer winters in Massachusetts, wildfires in California, to simultaneous hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, we are already living through the devastating effects of this crisis,” said Monty Neill of Extinction Rebellion Boston.

“Headlines from respected media outlets like The Boston Globe have not reflected the climate crisis with sufficient urgency or communicated its full impacts on human life, We are in the midst of a full-blown climate emergency, with the future of all life on earth at stake. People throughout Boston and Massachusetts need to know how the climate is changing and how it is impacting their lives now and will affect them in the future,” said Neill.

Emissions from coal, oil and natural gas are currently following a “worst-case scenario” trajectory, according to a Woods Hole research group.¹ Worst-case consequences include multiple food crop failures, uninhabitable conditions on much of the planet, and billions of climate refugees, including US citizens.²,³,⁴ Yet, according to Yale polling, only one in ten Americans feel “very well-informed” about the crisis, and fewer than half say they hear about climate change in the media at least once a month.⁵ People in the U.S. are increasingly aware that they are not adequately informed and they want more and better information.⁶

“We need the Globe to be a leader and partner informing the public of the imminent dangers of the climate and ecological crisis,” said Alex Chambers, but “the paper has been negligent in its failure to adequately cover these crises. Today we’re here to remind the paper of its mission to ‘expose the truth, even in defiance of powerful interests’.”

Three major reports from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change⁷ and one from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services were released in 2018 and 2019.⁸ These reports paint a dire picture: if we do not act immediately, we will face global famines, water shortages, increased transmission of disease, worsening wildfires, more frequent and deadly heat waves and weather events, flooding from rising sea levels, and mass climate migrations which expose already vulnerable populations to human rights abuses.⁹

Extinction Rebellion Massachusetts is an autonomous chapter of the international grassroots movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), which started in London in 2018. The purpose of XR is to tell the truth about how dire the ecological and climate crisis is and spark immediate action in order to prevent complete climate and ecological collapse. We aim to mobilize people around the world to utilize nonviolent direct action to demand that governments take radical action to avert societal collapse caused by widespread climate and ecological disaster, and to protect front-line communities, biodiversity, and the natural world. This movement is non-political, and unites all of humanity behind a singular goal of a just and livable future. Learn more at: xrmass.org

  1. Woodwell Research Institute (formerly Woods Hole Research Center): Schwalm et al., "RCP8.5 tracks cumulative CO2 emissions", PNAS, 2020
  2. NY Times, "The Great Climate Migration has Begun"
  3. NY Times, "Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns"
  4. Xu et al., "Future of the human climate niche", PNAS, 2020
  5. Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, "Climate Change in the American Mind: April 2020"
  6. Voters Want to See More Climate Coverage in the Media
  7. IPCC 2018 Report, IPCC 2019 Special Report on the Land, IPCC 2019 Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate
  8. IPBES 2019 Report
  9. CBS, “Human civilization faces "existential risk" by 2050 according to new Australian climate change report”

Climate Crisis Reporting at the Boston Globe: Give the readers what they want!

REPORT SUMMARY: To address shortcomings in coverage on the climate and ecological crisis, meet the demands of the times, and the needs of the people to understand and address the crisis, Extinction Rebellion Boston calls for The Boston Globe to:

  1. Declare a climate and ecological crisis. Place the climate emergency as your top editorial and corporate priority.
  2. Create a climate emergency reporting plan at the same level of urgency placed on informing the public about the Second World War, following the climate crisis at least as closely as the coronavirus pandemic. That means reporting on the climate and ecological crisis with prominent and front page coverage every day, reporting that both informs readers about events and connects events to science and the trends to more extreme climatic and environmental conditions.
  3. Assign staff to ensure adequate coverage of climate and ecological science, and create a prominent section on ecology in the print edition and on the web with a keyword at the top of the website.
  4. Emphasize environmental racism and justice. Ensure focused reporting on environmental damage and risks to Indigenous, Black, Brown, other People of Color, immigrant and poor communities.
  5. Emphasize science. Ensure that all articles, opinions, and editorials do not misrepresent scientific consensus on the climate crisis and its impacts on life. Scrutinizes public policy for its consistency with this scientific consensus and the scale of action required.
  6. Expand reporting of possible solutions, including political, economic, technological, and lifestyle changes, that address the crisis and prepare for future changes.
  7. Consistently and thoroughly cover the environmental movement. This includes protests, advocacy, and other environmental conservation and regeneration efforts - especially those with direct impacts on BIPOC, immigrant and low-income communities.
  8. Collaborate with your staff's labor unions to divest any pension funds and investments in fossil fuels corporations and their bankers. Disclose any funding from these entities, including income from advertisements.
  9. Agree to be carbon neutral by 2025, along with your subsidiaries and supply chain.
  10. Take the lead on encouraging other local, national, and global media corporations to join the global effort to save humanity and the natural world from this existential crisis.
  11. Extinction Rebellion Boston requests a meeting with Brian McGrory, editor of the Globe, and John Henry, principal owner of the Globe, to discuss our call to action and how the Boston Globe can expose the truth about the climate and ecological emergency.

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