Year 2, Month 1, Day 8: More On Our Failed Media Experiment

The title of this post is one of the regular tags at John Cole’s blog, “Balloon Juice.”

The San Francisco Chronicle notes a newly released report from the Endangered Species Coalition detailing the likelihood that climate change is going to cause big, big, big problems for a lot of creatures. If the past is any indication, this report will be handled like all the other reports which say the same thing: a newspaper article and a couple of blog posts followed by a lapse into innocuous desuetude (kind of like first performances of modern classical compositions).

It’s definitely “Getting Hot Out There,” as the Endangered Species Coalition notes in its just-released report on the implications of climate change for many of the world’s most fragile natural ecosystems. While the impending extinction of a significant number of species should be sounding alarm bells throughout our society, we can expect this news to be received with a collective shrug by our distracted and economically frayed society. Why would we ignore such an ominous augury? The answer lies in another type of extinction. Over the past decade, responsible, scientifically-informed coverage of climate change issues by our news media has become increasingly rare. Even as the atmosphere has been steadily heating up, American broadcast news has treated global warming with cool dismissal, regularly giving more on-air minutes to tea-party political theater and the latest celebrity scandal du jour than to the single greatest existential threat our species has ever faced.

Warren Senders

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