You would think from watching, listening, or reading our Rochester-area media that almost nothing was happening with our environment. There might be something going on, say with global warming but only in a hazy nondescript sense. There might be an energy hike coming in the nebulous future or somebody might have done something nice for our beleaguered pets during this Recession. Oh, there is something about fuel cells and a pretty good article about using landfill trash for fueling our cars. And, I spotted a few green articles to delight; the ever hopeful. Overall though, this stubborn parochialism of our area’s media on our environment is like the one gets from Steinberg’s famous The New Yorker painting’s where beyond the range of NYC’s 9th Avenue nothing much really goes on. And, it must be assumed, much less do we care.
If it wasn’t for our ability to mine the Internet’s vast journalist resources, we here in Rochester would probably be completely oblivious of Nature’s machinations. For alas, there is much going on. How about how the recovery funds might affect our New York State environment department? Or, those peregrine falcons in our region that are on the rebound. Does it mean we’ve cleaned things up? What about the new studies of the Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) virus that has ravaged the Great Lakes and might have had its genesis in our area? Or, what about the new study that just came out on the rise of trans-fats (from our junk food) in Great Lakes herring gull eggs?
The bottle bill, which could greatly reduce trash about our area, is coming to a head soon and could greatly affect funds for our area’s environment. Most surrounding media covered it, but not ours. BTW: one of my favorite loony arguments against the bottle bill is this: What if we pass the bottle bill, begin using the monies for the Department of Conservation and then people lose interest in recycling? Well, Mr. corporate-compliant media isn’t it the government’s job to make sure our economy works in sync with our environment, not against it? [I know, to pure free-marketers this seems like the ravings of a lunatic, but think science and sustainability, instead of a selfish desire for more money.] And, in the media outside our area there were stories on bird studies about how climate change is already affecting our area, and one from near-by Canada about how climate change could eventually drain the Great Lakes. Not to mention, that the NYS DEC just issued the “Final Scope for Marcellus Shale Study.” Poking around underground in our area for more gas could conceivably affect our water, land, and air. But, nary a word from the Rochester press core.
This vast hole in our media’s environmental coverage is probably as not sinister as it appears. Although in the past eight years we have become inured to our government’s complacency and denying anthropomorphic environmental change, much of this dearth in local coverage on our environment has more to do with the perception that in order to make more money and stay afloat ,our media must pander to what they believe will sell news. The extraordinary changes occurring in our environment, even in the Rochester area, does not seem to be one of those beliefs. Yet, you would think that our local press would realize that everything we do in this area and hope for must include a healthy environment—and that the public would want that actively monitored, not pushed under the threshold of our attention. You would think that if the army was in country and one of its unit’s sentinels fell asleep while on duty, he’d be replaced.