Concrete data on impact of climate change in Bhutan lacking

This is impeding reporting accurately on the phenomenon 

Environment: Lack of adequate and accurate data are the main constraints hindering the availability of a true picture of the impact of climate change in Bhutan.

Any report on climate change is based on generic information that does not give a clear picture and lacks in-depth analysis.

These observations were pointed out during a day long workshop on the impact of climate change organized by the Bhutan Media and Communications Institute (BMCI) and the Journalist Association of Bhutan with support from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Thimphu, yesterday.

Journalists and environment writers who attended the workshop said although the impact of climate change is being observed in the country, there is no concrete data and evidence available to ascertain the degree of the impact.

Climate journalists write stories based on information that is either stale or based on assumptions.

For instance, the outbreak of the army-worm is partly attributed to the impact of climate change but the main cause is still unknown.

Experts say that outbreaks of army-worm take place during warm and humid temperatures during summer but do not specifically mention climate change or global warming.

Like wise, natural calamities are also attributed to climate change without knowing the root cause, participants, who were mostly journalists, observed.

They said when articles are written based on general data and assumptions, it becomes subjective and limits any impact.

Apart from that, the participants also pointed out that there is lack of access to information in the country where the primary source of data on climate change are government agencies.

The participants pointed out that the reason for not getting accurate and required data is because there have been no proper studies or research carried out.

Some said it is an indication of a lack of climate scientists and climate change experts in the country who can carry out such research and studies thematic to climate change. On the other hand journalists who are working on climate change do not have adequate knowledge and cannot report well.

Journalists also lack discipline to work on beats as a result of which they cannot spread the message adequately, it was said.

ICIMOD, which has been supporting Bhutanese journalists with training, information sharing and other skills development has agreed to further strengthen their support.

ICIMOD Communication Specialist, Gopilal Acharya, said as journalists are important to disseminate right and timely information with regard to climate change, it’s their priority to enhance the skills of journalists through technical and financial support.

He added that the role of media in communicating climate change-related information must be strengthened through strengthening the capacity of journalists.

Representatives from Royal Society for Protection of Nature and Tarayana Foundation who were present in the workshop pointed out that journalists should be more proactive and coordinate with concerned agencies to gather information.

This is the second workshop on climate change that BMCI has organized. Four more workshops are planned.

BMCI Director, Pushpa Chhetri, said the organization intends to organize many more workshops to bring together experts, policy makers, journalists, politicians and farmers so as to understand the mains issues of climate change and work on measures to mitigate its impact.

Tenzin Namgyel

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