Wednesday, January 11, 2012
“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities”. -- Josiah Stamp
Globally, are people getting less interested in talking about climate change? What might be the reasons for the seemingly less interest in climate change stories? Is there a feeling that enough has been said about climate change? Are people frustrated that they talk about climate change and yet see that nothing is happening? Is it to the benefit of the earth that we stop creating awareness of climate change and put pressure on ourselves to find solutions?
Last week, I had a discussion with a friend and we arrived at a conclusion that “climate change” is gradually fading away just as some words had become very topical some years ago and they gradually faded away. Our assertion was not backed by any real facts or analysis but we were convinced of what we said, basing our assertion on the frequency at which we are hearing and reading articles and editorials on climate change in the Ghanaian media. ‘Sustainability’, at some point, was the ‘catchword’ of every debate on the environment but this word gradually faded away; we will discuss this another time. Now, it seems climate change is gradually fading away too.
Then this week I come across a publication by DailyClimate.org that had the headline, ‘Climate coverage down again in 2011’. So we might be right with our assertion after all! In the article, it is stated that “media coverage of climate change continued to tumble in 2011, declining roughly 20% from 2010's levels and nearly 42 % from 2009's peak, according to analysis of DailyClimate.org's archive of global media”. Despite the many extreme weather events that occurred across the globe, famine in the Horn of Africa, Australia's approval of a carbon tax, COP 17 climate conference in South Africa, etc, coverage of climate change issues went down.
According to DailyClimate.org, at least 7,140 journalists and opinion writers published some 19,000 stories on climate change in 2011, compared to more than 11,100 reporters who filed 32,400 stories in 2009. Also, 20% fewer reporters covered the issue in 2011 than in 2010, 20% fewer outlets published stories, and the most prolific reporters on the climate change beat published 20% fewer stories. This information, in my opinion, is a wake-up call for all who are concerned to get back to work and write about this global challenge. We need to make more people aware of what is happening around us. Relentless efforts at creating public awareness of climate change issues which reached its peak in 2009 have helped to make the society more aware of the key issues in the problem. If media outlets and all writers would not relax but step up their game, some more minds would change to accept that climate change is real and there is the need to address it.
Climate-related issues published by the BBC in 2011, for instance, dropped by 30% from 2010, whilst ‘The New York Times’ published 953 stories and blog posts, against 1,116 in 2010 and 1,408 in 2009; according to dailyclimate.org. Reuters published 1,235 stories in 2011 – more than three per day – its output was down 27% from 2010. Looking at this reducing trend, it seems climate change is no longer ‘that new girlfriend’ that was found to be extremely attractive and one couldn’t stop talking about!
One important consideration if we want the reading public to attach importance to climate change issues: “CLIMATE CHANGE should be seen in banner headlines”. “People take their cues about what's important from what shows up in the headline of the newspaper. It doesn't matter really what the articles say," says Robert Brulle, Drexel University.
So I ask again, is there a lack of interest in talking about climate change? What might be the reasons for the seemingly less interest in climate change stories? Is there a feeling that enough has been said about climate change? Are people frustrated that they talk about climate change and yet see that nothing is happening? Is it to the benefit of the earth that we stop creating awareness of climate change and put pressure on ourselves to find solutions?
Let’s wake up!
“In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences”. -- Robert Green Ingersoll