Failed south

Published: Saturday 15 April 2006

-- Climate Change The Developing World

Panos London's survey of four developing countries has turned up failing grades for the countries vis--vis understanding of climate change and its reportage. Ironically, it is these very countries that will probably feel the most severe pinch resulting from climate change the world over.

Released this month, the survey asserts that the media, scientists and policymakers have to encourage a sorely needed public discussion of the critical issues to ensure not just environmental reportage but scientific awareness as well. Panos interviewed journalists from Honduras, Jamaica, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and all responded in the negative when it came to news coverage in national print and broadcast media. The reasons included poor grasp of science by editors and the general public. Also because their respective governments afforded very low priority to matters of climate change. Of Zambia, the report says, "The little reportage barely scratches the surface, and lacks in-depth analysis of climate change."

Though most of the reporters agreed that global warming is real, many inaccurately linked it to factors such as ozone layer depletion and acid rain, instead of rising levels of carbon dioxide. They added that the lack of access to accurate information and associated scientific jargon impede reporting. The survey has encouraged policymakers to pool funds for both journalists and editors to improve their perception of climate change and media's role in public debate on such issues.

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