Dear Florida Newspapers,
We are a group of nonprofit organizations, fellow journalists, business leaders, educational institutions, and Floridians who are calling on you to unite and showcase your journalistic integrity when it comes to covering our planet’s most pressing issue – the climate crisis. This summer, you covered firsthand the devastating impact of a warming planet, from extreme heat and devastating flooding to catastrophic hurricanes and wildfires. While the impacts of the climate crisis were in full display, and 7 out of 10 Americans believe in global warming, only 4 out of 10 of them think it will harm them personally according to the Yale Climate Communication Opinion maps. Even more alarming is that only 2 out of 10 Floridians hear about global warming in the media at least once a week. This is a very low number, and we need our news outlets to cover this topic more widely and connect it to other news stories so readers can understand how a warming climate is affecting them.
Sunday, October 24th is the International Day for Climate Action. It is also a week before the United Nations COP26 climate summit, the most important meeting between world leaders when countries must set more ambitious goals for ending their pollution contributes to climate change under the Paris Agreement. We’re sure you will be covering COP26, the issue lies in how it is covered – it is usually only covered as an environmental or biodiversity issue. If there is something this past summer has shown us, this crisis is affecting people all around the world and here at home, especially the most vulnerable. Our changing climate has affected at least 85% of the world’s population claiming many lives, disrupting supply chains, impacting immigration, and sparking civil unrest but it is also affecting our water & food security, the quality of our air, and thus our health.
Here in Florida, our economic pillars — tourism/ports, agriculture, and real estate — and our quality of life depend on the long-term sustainability of our natural resources and a stable climate.
In short, More Climate Crisis = Less Florida. Continuing to do nothing is not an option and there is a severe gap in conversations connecting the dots between these issues. Thus, the signatories of this letter would like to see unified action from our Florida newspapers in taking the lead in informing the public. We are asking you to take bold steps to call attention to the climate crisis by removing the name of your city from your masthead for one day, October 24th, in solidarity, in both print and digital form. In addition, we ask that you publish a joint editorial on why you are taking this action, and include the significance of COP26 while calling Florida local and state elected leaders to do more to mitigate our planet-warming emission that threatens all Floridians.
Below are some of The Society for Professional Journalists principles that we feel apply to our request.
This open letter was also published in The Invading Seas on Monday, October 18th.
Signatures are added within 24-48 hours. If you have any questions please email CLEO at firstname.lastname@example.org