At the end of a distinguished career at The Guardian, editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger thinks back over his long tenure. With a few months left to serve one of the finest reporting and writing operations of news on the planet, does he have any regrets?
Not many, he says, except that he thinks because of the nature of the story, newspapers and journalists and readers overlook the threat of climate change to the planet and to us.
This summer I am stepping down after 20 years of editing the Guardian. Over Christmas I tried to anticipate whether I would have any regrets once I no longer had the leadership of this extraordinary agent of reporting, argument, investigation, questioning and advocacy.
Very few regrets, I thought, except this one: that we had not done justice to this huge, overshadowing, overwhelming issue of how climate change will probably, within the lifetime of our children, cause untold havoc and stress to our species.
Rusbridger then goes on to publish the first two chapters of Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything.
One of Klein's first points I must endorse, and admire her eloquence:
I denied climate change for longer than I care to admit. I knew it was happening, sure. Not like Donald Trump and the Tea Partiers going on about how the continued existence of winter proves it’s all a hoax. But I stayed pretty hazy on the details and only skimmed most of the news stories, especially the really scary ones. I told myself the science was too complicated and that the environmentalists were dealing with it. And I continued to behave as if there was nothing wrong with the shiny card in my wallet attesting to my “elite” frequent flyer status.
A great many of us engage in this kind of climate change denial. We look for a split second and then we look away. Or we look but then turn it into a joke (“more signs of the Apocalypse!”). Which is another way of looking away.
So hard not to look away. For example —