Everyone has an opinion on the media, and everyone has an opinion on climate change. This is an opinion on how it often appears that never the twain shall meet. Which, of course, is not true. It just feels like it is.

In a New Zealand context, we have so few science journalists - between 2011 and 2016 there have been only between one and three fulltime science print journalists at any given time. Each of them certainly gives climate change a fair crack of the whip, in both time and comprehensiveness.

But beyond the small pool of media science experts, I'm not seeing too much evidence that, bar a nuclear war, the greatest threat to humanity – global warming – is much more than a passing thought.

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Indeed, the news and weather presenters on our two 6pm nightly news channels spend zero time worrying about extreme scorching weather. They just smirk inanely while bantering about how good it'll be at the beach, and suggest chucking another sausage on the barbie. It's disquieting and insulting.

One has to admire their ability to carry on doing the tacit bidding of their overlords, and all with a straight face. It must be getter harder to do when, during the same news hour, they've led with an ever-increasing string of climate-related disasters.

What got me thinking about all this was Greenpeace's 45k-strong petition, and open letter signed by "leading New Zealanders", delivered this week to Parliament and urging Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to make good on her "climate change is my generation's nuclear-free moment" declaration.

The call from Greenpeace is for the Government to end oil and gas exploration now. "The climate science is clear. If we are to avoid catastrophic impacts, the world cannot afford to burn even existing reserves of fossil fuels, let alone seek out and burn new reserves." Now, who can argue with that? Intelligently, I mean.

Signatories to the open letter include scientists, health professionals, iwi leaders, businesspeople, politicians, unions, poets, actors, and musicians. Oh, and journalists. Two of them. I'm one of them, but I'm just a lowly, contracted opinion writer who's free to express a view. After all, it's what I'm paid to do.

The other is Rebecca Macfie – the journalist's journalist. She's just this week finished writing for the Listener after many years, and wrote Tragedy at Pike River Mine: How and Why 29 Men Died. Macfie is as opposite to an opinion writer as you can get. Everything for her is impartial, meticulously researched, long-form reportage.

I signed because I believe that climate change is real, and fossil fuel extraction is the biggest driver of it, so why wouldn't I? I'm fairly certain that Rebecca Macfie feels exactly the same way. These are logical, practical, and easily-defendable positions for us to take.

Yet, when I tried to influence other media colleagues to do the same, I mostly smacked into a wall of silence. The ones that did respond were concerned about their employment – and said so. I get that, but I don't have much truck with it.


Ingrained in every journalist's training is a constant battle hymn. It sings about the notion of balanced, objective, neutral reporting. As it should. But if, as journalists, we accept that global warming and - its death grip made real – climate change are actually happening, then why would any of us hesitate to sign that Greenpeace letter?

Is it because we're not quite ready to publicly differentiate between it being man-made or naturally occurring? This really shouldn't be up for debate any longer amongst credible media outlets. Why? Because, science. The only ones pushing that barrow are the oil industry themselves, and the ten percenters looking to gain from business as usual. Anything else is denial. Plain and simple.

Or is it because Greenpeace comes across as too radical, too mouthy, too activist? I can remember a time when I thought that I despised them. Greenpeace seemed pious and sanctimonious somehow.

Now, I see a well-oiled machine. An effective organisation that's doing more than any political party to bring environmental and humanitarian issues into everyday discourse. Basically, if the Greens had leadership like Greenpeace, they'd be fizzing. Who's their CEO again? Oh, that's right. Russel Norman.

All I know is, as the weather gets steadily worse we need journalism to get steadily better. And maybe I'm being far too tough on those journos who could use their relative fame, power, and undeniable influence to change minds by signing an open letter to the Prime Minister, but choose not to.

Maybe, instead of signing, they could get busy writing about what's soon going to be the only thing we'll be talking about. TV presenters could even stop gloating about awesome summer sun while rural folks are suffering yet another drought.

Over to you, Jacinda.