What is salient is not important. What is important is not salient. Most of the time, most of the media obsesses over issues of mind-numbing triviality. Much of the world’s political journalism is little more than court gossip: who’s in, who’s out, who said what to whom. At the same time, issues of immense, even existential importance are largely or entirely ignored.
The Guardian is one of the few news organisations devoting time, space and resource to the most pressing issue of our time. Support from our readers makes this possible, and we hope you’ll show yours today.
With the exception of all-out nuclear war, all the most important issues that confront us are environmental. None of our hopes, none of our dreams, none of our plans and expectations can survive the loss of a habitable planet. And there is scarcely an Earth system that is not now threatened with collapse.
Let’s begin with the ground beneath our feet. Soil is a biological structure, created by the organisms that inhabit it. When conditions become hostile to their survival, the structure collapses, and fertile lands turn to dust bowls. The global rate of soil degradation is terrifying. We rely on the soil for 99% of our calories, yet we treat it like dirt.
Ocean ecosystems are in even greater trouble, hammered by a combination of industrial fishing, pollution and acidification, as carbon dioxide dissolves into seawater. Forests, rivers, wetlands, savannahs, the cryosphere (the world’s ice and snow): all are being pushed towards the brink.
Above all, climate breakdown is gathering at shocking, unanticipated speed, with disasters occurring at 1.2°C of heating that scientists did not expect until we hit 2 or 3°.
Yet you would scarcely know it. Most of the media, most of the time, either ignores our environmental crisis, downplays it or denies it. The reason is not difficult to discern. Most of the media is owned by corporations or billionaires, who have a major financial interest in sustaining business as usual. To keep the proprietors, shareholders and advertisers happy or, in the case of public sector broadcasters, to keep the government off their backs, the most important issues of all are neglected.
Part of the Guardian’s mission is to fill in the gaps, to cover issues overlooked by most of the rest of the media, above all the issues whose neglect could be fatal to much of life on Earth.
With correspondents all over the world, with a dedicated team of expert reporters, thoughtful commentary and an open and empirical approach, the Guardian seeks to put environmental issues where they belong: at the front and centre of people’s minds. Almost every week, we break major environmental stories, many of which feature nowhere else in the media.
Without a proprietor or other such interests leaning on us, we are free to explore issues and express opinions that in other places are treated as a kind of blasphemy. Our aim is to make the important salient and the salient important.
Moreover, we believe that everyone should have the right to learn about such crucial topics, so we have resisted the commercial pressure to paywall our content. Instead, our fiercely independent journalism remains open and free for millions to rely upon every day.
With your help we can continue to expand the scope of our inquiries, and to place environmental issues where they belong: at the front and centre of people’s minds. To fund this important work, and to protect the Guardian’s editorial independence, please consider showing your support today from as little as $1. If you can, set up a regular amount to power our reporting every month or year.