The intention was to tell the story of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, a British journalist and an Indigenous expert. Both were killed last June in the Amazonas. A beautiful corner of Brazil turned into an oasis for illegal gold miners or fishers catching protected species. Phillips was there researching for a book on sustainable development.
Not an isolated case. A couple of months earlier, Cambodian journalists Hang Serei Oudom and Chut Witty were murdered after writing several articles about deforestation and other related crimes.
The risks faced by reporters investigating environmental issues are enormous. Plus, fake news, conspiracy theories, and hate speech make reporters’ jobs to enlighten public opinion on complex topics like climate change and energy policies even harder. A mission less and less appreciated by the general public, apparently happy with the unsubstantiated but abundant information any blog or social media can provide. This is why accurate reporting is more crucial than ever.
Ill-informed and kept-in-the-dark citizens are a recipe for a weak democracy. Paradoxically, it is in the name of democracy the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in the West Virginia vs EPA case. Without a new ad hoc legislation from Congress, the environmental agency has no legal authority to regulate climate change issues or impose specific measures on power plants. In the name of representativeness, the Court ruling empties the legal foundation of institutions operating for over a century. Agencies set up and authorised by representatives of the people democratically elected are legitimate. Unless all congressmen are equal but some are more equal than others.
Denying the executive agencies’ rule-making power on areas of expertise and specialised knowledge brings the ball back on the Congress pitch. Where the scientific argument makes a step backwards and allows lobbyists to retake the reigns.
All you need is six people in a room to crush in one go creditable years of journalists’ reporting, a country’s administrative system, and any hopes of progress on climate issues. If the nation is the United States of America, not only American citizens have to worry.