Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why the public is blind on Climate Change? Ans: Local Media.


Only one major mainstream media in Rochester, NY has a dedicated ‘environment news’ section. Unless I am mistaken (please contact me if I am) The Daily Record is the only newspaper, radio, TV, or local cable show that has a section solely devoted to reporting on the state of our environment.

This is dysfunctional and delusional for a city the size of Rochester, NY to leave one of the most important issues of our day, our environment, with Climate Change quickly framing all environmental issues, to be left as an ad hoc issue. So many of our major issues must be viewed through the lens of Climate Change—transportation, telecommunications, public health, Brownfields, water quality, invasive species, and preserving our forests –that cannot be understood by the public unless our media continually connects the dots. (BTW: does do this on a local level.)

Our local media has entertainment sections, sports, business, arts, music, and even games but not ‘environment.’ They all will report on an environmental issue once in awhile when something flares up (which, with environmental issues it’s often too late to do anything about them) , while rarely connecting the dots between extreme weather and a rise in vector-driven disease like West Nile Virus which are known to be affected by Climate Change, and that’s about it.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have many Climate Change studies that include our area and explain in-depth what environmental issues will be affected by warming in our region and what is predicted. Read these studies and connect the dots to what we are experiencing now—heatwaves, a rise in West Nile Virus, longer growing seasons, early spring warmings that affect our fruit farmers, and much more.

It’s no wonder that we are having a presidential election without a major discussion on Climate Change. Our media has allowed the public the delusion that Climate Change is still in doubt, still not status quo, still not a major issue understood to be a major issue around the world. But it is.

Our environment is changing rapidly and although it is not happening as quickly and as dramatically as a car crash, it is nevertheless going to dramatically affect all our lives—especially as Climate Change complicates all our environmental issues. Blinding ourselves, by a media that only wants to pander to our desire to ignore such a profound issue and responsibility must change. We will either have to change the media or become the media.

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