In May of this year, the UN released another alarming report on species extinction – but almost no one in the media is talking about it. Only 19 of the top 50 US newspapers covered the report.
The UN released a partial report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) – “Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’, Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’, Current global response insufficient; ‘Transformative changes’ needed to restore and protect nature; 1,000,000 species threatened with extinction”.
Then, Public Citizen did a study on the top 50 major US newspapers, to find how this report was being covered in the media. Shockingly, 31 of those outlets had no coverage on the report at all! Here is a total summary of their findings:
- Thirty-one of the top 50 papers did not cover the U.N. report in their print editions.
- The remaining 19 papers produced 48 total pieces that at least referenced the U.N. report.
- Among pieces that covered the report, 67 percent connected the possible extinction of one million species to the climate crisis.
- The Washington Post produced the most coverage with nine pieces, including three columns and an editorial.
- Twenty-nine percent or 14 of the articles were reprints from other publications or wire services. Eight of these 14 reprinted an Associated Press article by Seth Borenstein.
- Eight papers editorialized on the report: the Houston Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, The New York Times, Newsday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Virginian-Pilot, and The Washington Post.
- Forty percent of pieces on the U.N. report discussed how we can prevent such a massive loss of biodiversity, including by mitigating climate change.
- Twenty percent of pieces discussed barriers to saving threatened species, such as efforts by the Trump Administration to weaken the Endangered Species Act.
- Just one mention of the report, in the “Fake Test” section of the New York Post, was dismissive of the findings.
- A total of 30 letters to the editor referencing the report were published among 13 of the top 50 papers.
The IPBES report contains vital information that needs to be shared with the public. It “also presents a wide range of illustrative actions for sustainability and pathways for achieving them across and between sectors such as agriculture, forestry, marine systems, freshwater systems, urban areas, energy, finance and many others”. To read the U.N.’s partial release of the report, please see here.