Published on December 15, 2015.
PARIS—One striking difference between the climate negotiations held in Copenhagen in 2009 and those that ended on Saturday night in this city was the new prominence given to the moral dimension. In the six years since the last attempt to forge a universal and binding agreement to arrest global warming failed, evidence of the serious consequences of climate change has mounted, putting a new emphasis on the vulnerability of the poor and the unprepared.
To the arguments from politics, economics and science have been added moral or spiritual imperatives. Pope Francis’ much-heralded encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si,” has been invoked many times on the road to a Paris agreement. His special envoy to the Paris negotiations, Cardinal Peter Turkson, spoke often and pointedly about meeting the needs of the climate-vulnerable with compassion and solidarity. Other spiritual leaders also made themselves heard.
Thoughts about “moral force,” with Emilio Jacinto as starting point. Published on April 14, 2009
Last month, the Inquirer hosted a score of students from Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The college students, many of them media studies majors, asked inexhaustible questions about both specific topics (details about journalist killings in the countryside, for instance) and large, general issues (the role of media in a democracy, the future of print). The lively give-and-take ran a couple of hours, and we had to call an end to it only because they were already late for their next appointment.
The second kind of question was the type my Jesuit classmates in philosophy a generation ago used to call Big Talk—the opposite, naturally enough, of small talk. It is the sort of question working journalists do not really think about on a daily basis; if my experience in five newsrooms is any guide, journalists worry about the day’s stories and the inevitability of deadlines. (The anecdotal evidence about the making of “The Elements of Journalism” says much the same thing. The second kind, to paraphrase Kovach and Rosenstiel’s summing-up, is like asking a journalist whether she believes in God. An important question, but almost impertinent.)
But it is a type of question more journalists must come to terms with—if only to explain and defend the sometimes freewheeling practice of a working press to the future civil servants and private-sector leaders of prim, proper Singapore.