It’s like the publishing version of one of those scenes from a sci-fi movie where an alien invasion impels traditional adversaries to join together to face their larger, common threat. Today 56 newspapers, in Pakistan and India, in Israel and Lebanon, in Tawian and China, in Greece and Turkey, in Africa and in North, South and Central America are publishing an unprecedented joint editorial calling for meaningful action to face the threat posed by climate change. The editorial, published in 45 countries in 20 different languages, appears on this first day of the Copenhagen climate conference. The British paper the Guardian led the effort, which involved weeks of negotiations to reach a final version.
The editorial notes that “the science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2 degrees C...a bigger rise of 3 to 4 degrees C would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.”
The editorial recognized that “the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.”
So while gleeful anarchists like Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe go to Copenhagen to try to sabotage the proceedings, the worldwide array of newspapers attempts to remind the conference participants and the people they represent to keep their eye on the ball—the ball in this case being an oblate spheroid with almost seven billion human inhabitants and a fever that desperately needs to be treated. As the Guardian’s editor in chief, Alan Rusbridger, said, “Newspapers have never done anything like this before but they have never had to cover a story like this before.”