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Heroes

One last stand for future earth: A retiring newsman is dropping facts and naming names.

A global newspaper's editor-in-chief is facing his biggest regret after 20 years on the job.

What's the story the top editor at one of the world's largest newspapers says is most hidden from you?

In his final weeks as leader of the Guardian's newsroom, Alan Rusbridger is doing what he and other news leaders should have done long ago by putting climate change front and center. And as you'll see, it's brought them to an interesting crossroads with a powerful funder.

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Climate change hasn't been the stuff of front pages, and Rusbridger believes that must change.

He sees climate change as "the biggest story of our lives." But the "news" is a glimpse at what's already happened, not what's to come. And when it comes to reporting, according to Rusbridger:


"We favour what is exceptional and in full view over what is ordinary and hidden. ... If it is not yet news — if it is in the realm of prediction, speculation and uncertainty — it is difficult for a news editor to cope with. ... For these, and other, reasons changes to the Earth's climate rarely make it to the top of the news list. The changes may be happening too fast for human comfort, but they happen too slowly for the newsmakers — and, to be fair, for most readers."

The Guardian has taken a stance on climate change, and it can be summed up in five words: #KeepItInTheGround.

GIF via The Guardian.

Fossil fuels, that is. Because burning them is warming the atmosphere and accelerating events like this:

Antarctica's Larsen B ice shelf has existed for 10,000 years. In 2002, two-thirds of the shelf collapsed into the ocean over the span of six weeks. Researchers estimate the remaining portion will hold for only a few more years. GIF via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

They've launched a new section with stories and information about climate change and an eye-opening interactive feature.

With their carbon ticker, you can learn how much oil and gas humans have used in your lifetime and how long we have at our current usage rate until we've gone too far.

According to The Guardian, I will be 50 by the time we "blow the carbon budget." Image via The Guardian.

Climate policymakers' rough goal is to create rules to keep the earth's average surface temperature from rising 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. Because that's when sh*t gets real, says retired NASA climate scientist James Hansen:

"At that level, the world risked initiating feedbacks in the climate system, such as the melting of ice sheet area, that could trigger irreversible warming out of humanity's control."

But some scientists say the 2ºC target isn't enough — that it's unavoidable, even, if we only focus pressure on policymakers, which brings us to another feature of the #KeepItInTheGround campaign.

They're calling people out.

The Guardian and 350.org launched a petition challenging the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to put their money where their missions are by divesting from oil and gas.

Bill and Melinda Gates. Image by Kjetil Ree/Wikimedia Commons.

"Both have contributed hugely to progress in medicine and both are mindful of the grave dangers of climate change for public health. Yet both continue to invest in the companies driving the problem. Both spend millions each year on research and healthcare, but sink a chunk of their billions in capital into energy systems that will undo the work."
The Guardian

The two foundations' financial stakes in oil and gas, large as they may be, are just a drop in the bucket for the multitrillion-dollar industry. But the message their divestment would send could, according to The Guardian, "dent the standing of the companies involved, and curb their vast lobbying power."

Fossil fuel divestment sends a powerful message to both oil and gas companies and lawmakers.

More than 200 institutions, including the Guardian Media Group, Syracuse University, and the Church of England — plus over 200,000 individuals — have pledged to fully divest from oil and gas. Even the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which was built on oilprofits, is withdrawing its fossil fuel investments.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gulf of Mexico, 2010. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Want to help #KeepItInTheGround?

Sign this petition urging the Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust to divest from fossil fuels, and invite your network to join you. And if you have funds invested in fossil fuels, consider finding a better place for your money.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

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