Monday, October 31, 2011

What could the local media be doing to help combat Climate Change?

 

The media, mainstream media, could be doing lot to inform the public about Climate Change. Few things a government, environmental groups, or even businesses can do inform the public on Climate Change would have the impact of a responsible media that continually reminded everyone to change their behavior to make our environment sustainable. At present, we are running off a cliff.

Besides the immediate effect of reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) across the breath of our population this media engagement in the most serious problem facing the world would help convince the public of a real condition that has previously been treated as doubt-ridden. Climate Change, the warming of our atmosphere due to human activities, is as real as gravity. It would become real for the public, who admittedly has a lot of other issues on their plate, when Climate Change is dealt with honestly and realistically every day in the media that folks actually attend to. Media editors around the world need to focus on their role in convincing the public of a major threat to our existence: They need to get off the sidelines and enter the game.

The kind of changes warranted by an environmental issue on a planetary scale cannot be accomplished by few activities by only a few that make them feel good. We need to reduce GHG on a massive scale and it doesn’t have to be so painful if it is shared by a knowing public.

We cannot wait until everyone ‘gets it’ on climate change before they start action:

Skeptic finds he now agrees global warming is real Washington — A prominent physicist and skeptic of global warming spent two years trying to find out if mainstream climate scientists were wrong. In the end, he determined they were right: Temperatures really are rising rapidly. The study of the world's surface temperatures by Richard Muller was partially bankrolled by a foundation connected to global warming deniers. He pursued long-held skeptic theories in analyzing the data. He was spurred to action because of "Climategate," a British scandal involving hacked emails of scientists. (October 31, 2011)  Home - Canandaigua, NY - MPNnow

Mainstream media, which has previously only been able to address Climate Change by sowing doubt and using environmental groups as the only spokespeople for the planet, could take charge by educating the public on the most important news of the day. The prominent display and interchange of Climate Change issues on the media would convince the public that this issue is real—in a way that they do not understand it now.

Here are a few things that the media can and should begin right now to engage the public on Climate Change—and it would only take a few moments of each day.

  • Suggestion One: Because transportation accounts for 27% of GHG and most trips in vehicles are less than 6.5 miles, the media could do a short piece each day instructing drivers that bicycles have a right to be on the streets. Bicycles must follow the rules of the road also so they don’t confuse drivers. Helpful hints each day, maybe one minute long, could have a profound effect on people attitudes and behavior towards people getting around without burning fossil fuels.
  • Suggestion Two: Encourage area residents to Recycle. Recycling and Climate Change are strongly related (read: Stop Trashing the Climate) and recycling is something everyone can and should be doing. However, the compliance rate isn’t that great and many folks haven’t a clue as to what and when to recycle; despite the new Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation and that Monroe County now recycles all plastics and has a new EcoPark for everything else. It is easy to recycle, but not so easy to find out where to recycle every single used item in our area, but the information is out there. If media got on top of this and informed everyone every day, in the public interest, it would have a major effect on getting folks to recycle and doing so properly. It could also be a major boom for recycling businesses and recycling businesses want-to-be’s. Recycling is the easiest thing the public could be doing to affect Climate Change but they need to be convinced by an engaged media.
  • Suggestion Three: Much of our GHG comes from energy production. If the media continually reminded folks how to save energy (and in the meantime save money) by insulating their houses and getting energy audits we could save a lot of energy. When you flip that switch to turn on a light or warm your house, you are mostly burning coal and oil and gas, which are all fossil fuels that put carbon dioxide into our atmosphere and warm it up. Again, there is an almost overwhelming amount of information available on how folks can save energy and the media could continually (at no charge) give out that information.

Sure media wants to make money. And they could make more if they were a source of information that people actually needed, instead of the sports scores and holiday reminders that blanket the front pages and major news slots today. What if instead, you could always depend on your media to give you the information you needed to help combat Climate Change and actually make our environment sustainable, instead of the dreary track we are on now?

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