Journalism and the environment

01. Introduction to environmental issues /

As you know, climate change is partly caused by human activity and it threatens our life on Earth. The world has changed, it is time for us to change! This is why we are going to look at the environmental problems impacting our family as well as our friends. Humanity as a whole is affected by the issues of global environmental protection. You only need look at the events of recent months to see it deserves priority in news coverage.

We cannot disregard the COVID-19 pandemic. Infectious diseases transmitted from animals to people represent a significant percentage of new and existing diseases in humans. This is true of the new coronavirus at the root of the current epidemic. They can cause global pandemics. And growing urbanization and habitat destruction increase the risk of such diseases. How? By increasing the contact between us and wild animals. This biodiversity loss does not discriminate. It leads to disasters both in the countries of the North and in developing countries. Countries of the South hard hit by climate change.

Global warming causes droughts, wildfires, and floods. Contrary to what you might think, these recurring events are not contradictory. Take the Sahel. This region of Africa is becoming increasingly arid as a result of desertification. But it is also frequently subject to flooding. While the reasons are many, this double hardship is fostered by climate change. It is with good reason that the African Development Fund has just disbursed 2.1 million dollars to Mauritania to implement its Disaster Risk Management Funding Program.

Sudan, Niger, Chad, Senegal… many very dry states are now standing in water. This phenomenon may have been surprising a few years ago. Not anymore. The frequency of floods is also on the rise in India, whose dense and poor population is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. In short, Sub-Saharan African, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa are the regions facing the most environmental threats.

Threats that are not only climatic. Pollution is also a major environmental problem. In Lebanon, whose capital Beirut was recently rocked by the explosion of over 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, the government has been criticised for years for its failure to end open waste burning. The implementation of a sustainable waste management programme would mean the vast majority of waste did not end up in illegal landfills and dumps.

And what is the first thing we see, of course, in these giant rubbish tips?

Plastic bags! Now in the sights of many countries around the world.

The UN estimates that over 10 million plastic bags are bought every minute worldwide. 127 countries have adopted legislation to curb their usage. Of these, 34 African states have banned or limited their production, import and sale. Kenya’s legislators mean business. You risk imprisonment if you import or sell single-use bags. You’re just using one?  You’re fined!

As a result, 80% of the population has stopped using them according to a recent survey by Kenya’s Environment Management Authority.

Asia could learn from this. The effects of plastic pollution are devastating there too. China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam… these five countries alone dump more than four million tons of plastic in the ocean every year. That’s half of the world total according to the NGO Ocean Conservancy.

Have you heard of the Yangtze? It’s Asia’s longest river. And is so heavily polluted that the giant Chinese paddlefish, a native species that survived for 200 million years in these waters, has become the first species of the new decade to be declared extinct.

With the devastation caused by human activity, changing our behaviours means changing our society too. It also means changing the way we see the world, describe and narrate reality. We must inform people differently. We must not hesitate to change editorial lines, take a more pedagogical approach and embrace more constructive journalism. Creating spaces for dialogue to be close to people can, in times of crisis, promote service journalism.

This is what this e-Learning training programme is all about.

A CFI project in partnership with France Médias Monde

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