Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Media Blamed for Public’s Lack of Concern about Global Warming
While the world’s leading climate scientists paint increasingly grim scenarios about where global warming is leading, various polls confirm that the public is relatively unconcerned. The blame for this apathy in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that human civilization seems to be heading for almost certain disaster on a scale that is unprecedented is attributable to the media according to Dr. Neil Gavin from the School of Politics and Communications Studies at Liverpool University. Science Daily reports that Dr. Gavin and his research colleagues found fewer articles published in the media on climate change over a 3-year period than are published on health matters during a period of one month. Dr. Gavin concludes that “Climate change…may not be high enough on the media agenda to stimulate the sort of public concern that prompts concerted political action.” It is difficult to know what it would take for the media to cover global warming for this type of political action to result. Most parameters of global warming are incremental. Global temperatures are increasing as predicted but the rate is only about .2C per decade. Sea level is rising as predicted but the increase is only about 3 to 4 mm per year. The atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide have gone off the charts compared with the previous thousands of years but it only has been increasing by about 2 parts per million annually. These trends projected into the next several decades are ominous to say the least according to almost all climate scientists but it is difficult for these dire projections about the future to compete with a collapsing economy, wars and threats of terrorism, new information of the risks of heart disease and cancer, etc. The day that the media provides adequate coverage of global warming in time to provoke concerted political action to avert catastrophic climate change may just never arrive.