All Blog Posts

Blog Action Day '09: Is the Media Taking Climate Change Seriously?

Blog Action Day BadgeToday is Blog Action Day, an annual event powered by change.org that encourages blogs across the Internet to heighten discussion on a specific topic every October 15. This year’s focus is climate change, which has become a topic of widespread interest in recent years. Al Gore’s 2006 global warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," grossed over $24 million in the U.S. alone. Companies worldwide have made it a point to market themselves as “green” and environmentally conscious. But even if the issue has clearly entered the public consciousness to at least some degree, is the media taking climate change seriously enough?

In a February 2009 Science Daily article, Dr. Neil Gavin from the School of Politics and Communication Studies, argues that it’s not:

“Our research suggests that the media is not treating these issues with the seriousness that scientists would say they deserve,” Gavin said. “The research company lpsos-MORI found that 50% of people think the jury is still out on the causes of global warming. The limited amount of media coverage - which tends to be restricted to the broadsheets - means that this statistic is unlikely to alter in the short-term.”

But is the media to blame? Would more extensive reporting on climate change and related issues result in actual societal change? Last year, Andrew C. Revkin of the New York Times suggested on his blog, Dot Earth, that the media has a more limited influence on this issue than some believe.

“Frankly, I think one could write the perfect story on global warming, or create the perfect documentary, and repeat it over and over, and still not see much movement if the goal is to rapidly shift society out of its coal-fired comfort zone as the world heads toward 9 billion people,” Revkin wrote. “…an energy quest — from the bathroom light fixture to the highway to the boardroom to the classroom — does not begin in a newspaper, but must build from deeper within a society…”

I’m not sure exactly where the truth lies, but one thing’s for sure: I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing a few more stories on climate change in place of some of the countless pieces on the economy, crime, or celebrity news that flood newspapers, news sites and airwaves. It might not change the world, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.

What do you think? Is the media doing an adequate job of reporting climate change issues? Should it be doing more, or even less?