Hits of 2012

Tim Hall | January 9, 2013.

It was a big year for The Verb. A name change (no longer Speak Your Mind); an award (WWF inaugural Eco-Blog of the Year); a growing team of reporters; big news across the globe on climate change, the environment and social movements. From Rio to Doha to Nairobi or Sydney, The Verb covered it all.

So what have we learned? Our most popular articles tell us you have quite diverse interests. You also have a great, if somewhat sardonic, sense of humour. Sometimes satire can convey more than hard news ever could. You also crave in-depth articles exploring issues often ignored in the mainstream, such as gender and the environment or ecocide. You read up on the big issues, of which there were plenty at the mega conferences of Rio+20 and Doha COP18; yet you also cared about the small solutions, such as Little Sun.

In no particular order, here were some of our most popular articles of 2012:


The Verb prides itself on analysis that goes a little deeper, while also inspiring action. This list exploring six faces to watch at COP18 was a hit for that reason. Laying out the “players” of COP18 in plain language for everyone, it also called upon readers to be a valuable player in the climate movement.

It may have been for this reason that our live blogs, that allowed for you to follow along as if you too were in the room, proved to be unequivocally the most popular content that we produced.

“2012 presents the world with opportunities for reflection and redemption in our relations with the environment.”

The year began with a “state of the environment” address from our editors, predicting (perhaps optimistically) that 2012 would not see the end of the world. Instead, it was predicted 2012 would be a year of reflection, redemption, and resilience. Were we correct on this? These articles give a mixed review…

“We need your energy. We need your innovation. We need that push!”

Readers loved the powerful message from ocean explorer and conservationist Fabian Cousteau. The video went far and wide, a beacon of hope amidst the vapid political will at Rio. In particular, Cousteau called upon youth to step up, think “outside the box” and “nurture” the planet to provide hope to us all.

“Will lawyers save the planet? As far as making ecocide an international crime, the case seems rather compelling.”

What’s ecocide? Is it some extremist delusion? Not so, argued Lachie MacKenzie, who carefully dissected whether or not law could in fact stand up for the rights of the earth. The story was a hit with readers craving intelligent reflection, foreword thinking and voices often unreported in the mainstream.

“The 50,000 people who were here have turned a blind eye to a perfect example of the issues being discussed at the Rio conference.”

Sam Bowstead took readers right into the heart of some of Rio’s infamous favelas. What he found blew away his expectations. Who knew Michael Jackson’s words would be so relevant to Rio+20?

“During the negotiations, the Holy See proposed nearly one hundred deletions and alterations to the text on gender, health and education. More than any member observer state.”

A controversial news article that triggered a strong response from our readers. Genevieve Stewart, with pinpoint precision, highlighted the efforts of the Vatican to derail sustainable development negotiations and the importance of reproductive health in such talks. It was a story that triggered other articles in mainstream media and was a fresh take a vital aspect of international negotiations.

“The Little Sun is a product that elegantly answers the question of how to best provide an appropriate form of lighting for developing communities. It is simple by design, yet rich in outcomes.”

The Verb can occasionally get caught up in the big picture. That’s why this little piece was a popular one amongst readers, focussing on one small development which could have huge outcomes for many. A cliché free article on the small steps creating big change.

“Climate change poses a serious threat to the continued existence of gingers worldwide. A two degree global increase puts us on the very cusp of extinction.”

Possibly the scariest piece to emerge from Doha, it outlined the danger of climate change to red heads across the world. The Verb’s satire (including the UNFCCCC Twitter account) became a huge success at COP18, illuminating the absurdity of the stalled yet vital negotiations.

“But the followers of the Loving Hut take this approach to a completely different level.”

Michael Mazengarb’s article on the crazies of COP18 was hilarious, well-researched and investigative, and perfectly timed. Moments after publication, one of the kooks identified here, Christopher Monckton, tried to impersonate a nation’s diplomats, to deny climate change is occurring. Thankfully he held back from making any more “Hitler Youth” references. The article was a hit with readers looking for a different angle through which to see the conference. But it was trivial: readers were also alarmed with the hypocrisy and craziness within the conference centre. Although maybe that explains much about Doha’s outcomes.

And finally, two more popular articles we couldn’t ignore. The “Future of Sex and the Planet” takes a long hard look and gender and the environment. “Isn’t sustainable development about the environment? What has birth control and family planning got to do with it? Everything.”

Meanwhile the “Taking the Media Temperature” investigates the media itself; producing a brilliant in-depth article critically examining how the Doha climate conference was reported. “To simplify: the debate used to be about science, now it’s about politics.”

Leave a comment with the stories you’d like for us to be telling throughout 2013.


Compiled by Tim Hall and Linh Do, photo by Laura Owsianka.


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