Ushering in the Anthropocene

The third Himal Media Mela concludes with a call for global efforts to local climate issues


“If you are 45 or younger then you have never experienced a normal climate,” said Richard Mahapatra, managing editor of environmental magazine Down to Earth. His presentation ‘Politics of Environment and the Media’ was the ending session of the third annual Himal Media Mela 2024. 

The theme of Press Freedom Day this year is ‘Press for the Planet’, and all workshops and sessions, including Mahapatra’s, provided a plethora of story ideas for the journalists gathered at Yalamaya Kendra. 

“Climate change isn’t just a story anymore, it is the context where every story takes place,” says Mahapatra. “Everybody and everything is a climate story today. Migration happens on the backdrop of climate crises. And economic stories are invariably also climate stories.” 

Reflecting on exploits since the industrial age, Mahapatra highlighted how the human way of life has been a catalyst for the climate crisis that has affected Earth. 

"We have altered the planet so much that it is entering a new age that is named after us: The Anthropocene,” said Mahapatra. 

Mahapatra cemented the idea that there is a politics to the environment, a problem of the rich vs the poor. Mahapatra added that it is the poor who are left on the degraded land with tremendously polluted air, water, and land. 

Richard Mahapatra NT

Mahapatra’s presentation focused specifically on the linkages of stories, regardless of how disconnected we feel. 

“We are already by existence globalised. In such a situation, no local story stays within its locality. We are linked. A climate change story or a simple disaster story from one locality can be linked to another climate issue taking place a million miles away,” said Mahapatra. 

Conflicts and war, all over the world, have displaced people, and climate-related disasters are displacing more. 

“The jungles, which naturally take about 120 years to become extinct, are now dying in thirty years,” said Mahapatra. “Our extinction rate is dangerously high.”

To combat this crisis, added Mahapatra, journalists must gear up and do their part. 

He says: “Soon enough, Nepal, which has six seasons, will barely have three.”