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Posts Tagged ‘environmental journalism’

In one of his articles in the WorldChanging blog, Alex Steffen raises the question: ‘Who Will Tell the People? And How?

There’s enormous pressure here in the U.S. on environmental groups, scientists and public officials; pressure to play ball, to support targets that are politically safe, to be moderate. But this is not a situation where such gamesmanship will help our cause. Incremental and limited gains in this situation are in fact disastrous losses.

At the same time, we need to talk with people where they’re at on the issue, not where we wish they were. Somehow we need, in the next couple years, to guide millions of Americans through the progress of emotions — awareness, horror, despair, resignation, engagement, chosen optimism — that most of the people reading this site have gone through… and we have to do it in the next few years.

People are not really ready for this, but we’re not in a position to let that stop us. I’m not sure it’s too much of an overstatement to say that what’s needed is not just some issue education but a national mind-blowing.

I share Alex Steffen‘s frustration and his sense of urgency also. The media and the powers in charge have been tiptoeing around the reality at hand. I keep reading reports about 20 or 30% reduction goals for greenhouse gases in the next decades. Theses reports lead us to believe that things are not so bad after all, and smart technology alone should be able to get us out of our mess. Whose responsibility is it then to deliver the bitter pill of 90% reduction? And what are the strategies to make sure it has the desired effect on Americans’ behaviors?

To the question of who?, one obvious answer involves the media. Andrew Revkin‘s post on DotEarth yesterday, ‘Do the Media Fail to Give Climate its Due?‘, generated quite a lively discussion with the usual cast of characters: naysayers still, moderates, and radicals also. The reason the media have such an important role to play is as educators, and influencers of the crowds, so that the people will be ready to support the drastic emissions reduction policies that are to become an inevitable part of the political future. The objective is for the Most Inconvenient Truth I brought up earlier, to no longer hold.

Alex Steffen alludes to the time element of the process involved in bringing the public around. From personal experience, I can attest to the time lag, between initial exposure to the facts, and actual conversion. From the time when I attended Al Gore‘s presentation of An Inconvenient Truth, back in December 2005 – the first schock to my oblivious brain -, to the time when I finally became willing to make changes in my lifestyle, a good two years passed. Steven Running‘s Climate Grief model is most useful in that respect.

We then need to look at what is meant by the media. Sure, the New York Times, and other national publications, and TV stations have to play their part, but the advertising media should be considered as well. I have been pushing for a large scale, climate fight awareness advertising campaign. Al Gore, of all people should be the one spearheading such an effort. I hear his new book, ‘The Path to Survival‘ will be released next month. That’s good, and it’s not enough. Any good marketer will tell you that PR and the press can only generate so much awareness and persuasion. At some point, one needs to consider taking out the big guns, in this case, advertising. Ask all the presidential candidates!

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In the interest of the Not So Green Exposure Project, and also for all of you with the desire to activate, I am passing on this mail, just received from MoveOn.org:

Dear MoveOn member,

In the last year, the major TV networks asked the presidential candidates 2,679 questions. Pop quiz: How many were about global warming?

A) 514—after all, it’s one of the top issues facing the country
B) 165—as many as were asked about illegal immigration
C) 3—the same number asked about UFOs

If you guessed 3, you’re right: Reporters asked as many questions about UFOs as they did about the climate crisis—the biggest threat to our planet.1

Can you sign our petition urging top TV reporters to ask the presidential candidates about global warming? Click here to add your name:

http://pol.moveon.org/climatequestions/o.pl?id=11909-3314060-LgpGdr&t=165

The petition to the reporters says: “The American public deserves to know where all the candidates stand on the climate crisis and the solutions they propose to address it. Asking those questions is your responsibility.”

Please forward this email to your friends, family, and co-workers.

The media help decide what’s an “issue” in the ’08 election. Unless climate change is on the ’08 election agenda, it won’t be on the next president’s agenda. And the UN’s top climate expert warned: “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two or three years will determine our future.”2

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. And polls show that voters care about it.3 But somehow, the TV networks never got the memo. NBC’s top political reporter, Tim Russert, didn’t ask a single question about global warming last year. Same for Sunday political show hosts on CBS and ABC. CNN asked just 1. Incredibly, Republican-leaning Fox bested them all with a grand total of 2.

Our friends at the League of Conservation Voters will deliver your signature and comment directly to the TV networks at a press conference in front of their Washington, D.C., headquarters. And they’ll use our petition signatures to prove there’s public demand for TV anchors to ask about climate change.

Sign this petition to urge TV anchors to ask about climate change. Clicking here will add your name:

http://pol.moveon.org/climatequestions/o.pl?id=11909-3314060-LgpGdr&t=166

Thank you for all you do.

–Noah, Wes, Ilyse, Justin, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Sources:
1. “What Are They Waiting For?”, League of Conservation Voters
http://www.whataretheywaitingfor.com/facts.html

2. “Desperate times, desperate scientists,” Salon News, December 12, 2007
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/12/12/ipcc_report/

3. “Poll: Finding Their Voice as Agents of Change,” Democracy Corps, October 30, 2007
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3317&id=11909-3314060-LgpGdr&t=167

All it takes is one click.

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