BCM110 Issue Reflection

In following the media coverage of Global Warming for the past several weeks, I have come to realise that representation of this issue is diverse. Initially I thought that it was the public who were divided over the issue, however it has become clear after analysing various sources that it is the media who portray differing and often confusing opinions.  Despite varying perspectives on the issue itself, I discovered some underlying commonalities in the way in which the media instigate a response from their audience. The primary technique I have come to find is the use of fear throughout campaigns.

Covering this issue has allowed me to consider how much of an effect the ‘public sphere’ has on what content is publically mediated. Recent social turmoil has been the result of Julia Gillard’s (PM) announcement to introduce a Carbon tax, to be introduced around July 2012. My blog demonstrates intertextuality in using hyperlinks and embedded video of other sources, showing the mass array of sources available for consideration within the public sphere.

The debate surrounding the Prime Minister’s decision has been expressed in online polls, user-generated videos, interviews and through social media. It seems as though some form of debate surrounding climate change is constantly present. That is to say that, if discussion isn’t circulating about the validity behind global warming, it seems to be focused on whether we should pay money for the amount we pollute.

The majority of media outlets that I examined for my blogs were advertisements, used by companies to encourage the audience to take affirmative action against climate change. Organisations such as WWF (World Wildlife Fund) rely primarily on the premise that people will ‘stop climate change’, in order for their work in nurturing the habitat of endangered or threatened wildlife to continue. For this reason, the WWF invested in a campaign to combat the arguable growth of climate change, with a series of hard-hitting pictorial advertisements that rely on audience empathy and sense of humour. This campaign exemplifies one way in which the media are driving messages that stir guilt and anxiety in the reader, in order to communicate their message.

I found this campaign effective, and liked the way it provided me with a new angle to consider. As I tackled this issue with the perspectives of a climate-change sceptic, this was one of the few sources that compelled me to go green.

As well as discovering the fearful and guilt-ridden media releases that portray a world in rapid demise, I found that the media use imagery and scare tactics extremely quickly. To demonstrate my argument, I included in my blog entry “Jumping The Gun!” an image of Time magazine’s front page from 1974 and contrasted it with one from 2006.

Thirty years ago, this publication ran an issue titled “How To Survive The Coming Ice Age”. Conversely, the 2006 issue was plastered boldly with the heading “Special Report: Global Warming. Be Worried. Be Very Worried”.

This contradictory message, mediated by the same source, demonstrates how swiftly fluctuating ideas are eagerly spat out by the media.

Personally, I feel as though the ‘moral panic’ surrounding global warming is dominantly, if not completely, the responsibility of the media. In filtering down from scientific sources and researchers, the issue of global warming has been grasped by the media and thrust into the public eye more than any other.

As I already mentioned, the WWF campaign relies on audience fear as a catalyst for action. This technique is also used in the “Act On Co2” advert, shown in my ‘Worry for the enviro-future’ blog-post. The video finishes with the words of a young girl questioning how the story ends for our planet with, “Does it have a happy ending?” tugging at the heartstrings of the audience. It is again with the use of techniques that force the audience to reflect on their actions regarding climate change, that a self-driven moral panic is instigated. This panic is magnified by the media and creates a more widespread and fearful issue than what was once intended.

Looking into this issue has not necessarily made me more conscious of the issue itself; rather it has opened my eyes to the way in which the media portray issues. Many of the sources I used as references to this issue in my blog feature scare-tactics that evoke what the media regards as an appropriate response from their audience. In many of these cases, that response involves choosing more energy efficient alternatives to run households or companies.

– Orcadia 🙂

Worry for the enviro-future..

The media is instrumental in sending messages (from whatever perspective) about climate change to the public. Without the media to orchestrate and hype up their audiences fears, the current state of the global warming issue may not be as severe. Like I’ve said in previous blogs however, people, despite being aware of issues, often don’t act…for whatever the reason may be.

The  “Act on CO2” Campaign and many others just like it, instils obligation in the audience, encouraging them to reverse global warming on the basis that their own actions have caused the earths demise.

Tom Levitt reports that “upwards of 75 per cent of the general public…say climate change is an important issue”. So, basically, people are aware that it’s an issue…however, he also reports “few of us are doing much to actually tackle the problem and reduce our own emissions”.

He outlines a number of factors that underpin people’s reluctance to go green and do their bit for the environment. Some of these include, mistrust in the reported climate change ‘facts’, uncertainty in the impact their actions have on a global scale, and comparing themselves with others who do far less to reduce their carbon footprint.

I don’t personally identify as an eco-warrior of any sort, and I don’t go out of my way to reduce the carbon impact I have on this glorious earth of ours. However, behaviours such as recycling and not littering intentionally are automatic.

So despite people like me out there who don’t take the greatest care in choosing biodegradable/carbon-reducing alternatives, we are all picking up good small habits that make an impact in the long run.

– Orcadia

Jumping the gun!

Whenever humans experience something new and foreign, they have the tendency to jump the gun…Like ‘Googling’ the medical possibilities for a spot on your arm, only to find that you’ll be dead within 3 days. Well it’s the same for climate change – We have one 40-degree day and suddenly it’s the Armageddon!

Climate change has been a relevant circulating issue since the mid 20th Century. It was fairly agreed upon by scientists until the 1970s that the earth was gradually getter warmer. The reason for their sudden change of mind came from a cold snap thought to have been caused by “a sudden inflow of cold water from the arctic”.

Anyway, my point here is not the cold snap, or what scientists think about it. Here, I am trying to show that the public (who are massively influenced by the media) comes up with often outrageous and hasty conclusions to explain every trend in weather patterns.

Now, I might be tackling this issue from a skeptic’s point of view, but I find the medias constant flux of ideas and spin largely futile. The media simply fuel issues by publicizing them with spin, giving the audience a one sided perspective of an issue that may be extremely trivial and irrelevant.

This cover from Time Magazines 1974 issue demonstrates the public concern of an impending ice age.

Conversely, a mere 30 years on, the same magazine stresses the imminent threat of global warming.

So, with the same sources being confused about the message they’re sending out…how are we meant to cope? The media has clearly always influenced the ideas and responses of the public, using their broadcasting power to send their message to the ends of the earth. Using spin and emphasis techniques, which are both seen in the above Time covers, the public are left dazed and utterly convinced by what the media feeds them. In the 1970s it was an Ice-age, now its Global Warming. Can we ever just sit back and see that the weather can change every once in a while?

– Orcadia

Who cares?!

The public’s view of Global Warming is highly influenced by what the media feed them. It’s obvious that recent generations have been raised in a culture of growing environmental awareness. Some researchers suggest that whilst increased knowledge of the human impact on the environment, many of us are becoming tired of hearing about it.

“LETS GO GREEN TO GET OUR GLOBE CLEAN!” “REUSE, REDUCE, RECYCLE” “GIVE A HOOT, DON’T POLLUTE” “DON’T LET THE WATER RUN IN THE SINK, OUR LIFE’S ON THE BRINK!”

Is it any wonder, with slogans like this bombarding us daily, that we’re getting just a little bit tired of hearing about it?

A survey conducted by Readers Digest has suggested that,

“The colour green is now instantly recognised as eco-friendly, but media saturation has caused the message to lose potency and gain what he describes as green fatigue”.

The public is progressively ignoring these enviro-messages and opting to dismiss the feelings of guilt that arises from using the incorrect bin. It seems that people were once spurred on by feeling personally responsible for the state of the earth but now simply ignore those feelings.

Personally, I think the growing hipster/indie population may be to blame. Initially they were probably most likely to encourage increased action to save our withering environment. However, like most of the things they love, Climate Change became too mainstream and so they had to move on… just a thought! 😉

The same report by Readers Digest indicates how we are ignoring the little voice inside our heads,

Despite living in one of the driest environments in the world the survey found just 31 per cent of respondents feel bad about showering for more than four minutes and 85 per cent regularly take long showers.”

Its interesting to think then, whether the media’s encouragement for us to do good by mother earth will eventually backfire and result in a lack of interest from the public.

– Orcadia

Hot or Not?

Society today, in a local and even global sense, seems to be divided into two groups. One group favours the idea of Global warming, seeing human activity as an inevitable road to doom, whilst the others flippantly brush off such ideas, claiming them as nonsense.

Global Warming will always be contested publically, currently trending as one of the most talked about topics.

This rift in social opinion can be substantially attributed to the media’s portrayal of this subject. I suppose there’s only so many ways an article can be written on whether or not the earth is heating up …but surely it’s not just a case of true vs. false?

It seems to be so with most of the articles, videos and blogs I’ve seen being based on a he-said-she-said format.

Public opinion peaks at each end of the spectrum with some sources blatantly exclaiming the impending doom of France , whilst others dedicate entire blogs to challenging the notion of climate change (without proper referencing may I add 😉 )

For now, and most likely the unforeseeable future, Global warming remains a hot topic and one perhaps that will not see a public consensus anytime soon. The media only add fuel to the fire by riling up audiences, from whatever perspective, in order to keep this at the fore of public discussion.

– Orcadia

Things are heating up!

Global Warming.

We’re all sick of hearing about it but the issue doesn’t seem to stray far from the Media’s attention.  The impact that humans are having on the state of our global environment has dominated public discussion, news articles and online blogs like this in recent years with relentless repetition.

With a brief understanding of the concept and limited knowledge of what’s being done about the issue, I’ve decided to use my studies to delve into the hot topic of our earth’s gradual destruction…purely out of curiosity.

From what I have read/heard about this topic, the simplest way to describe Global Warming is this: “an increase in the earth’s average atmospheric temperature that causes corresponding changes in climate and that may result from the greenhouse effect.”

 Basically, over time our earth is expected to rise in temperature as a direct result of human intervention. The burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, as well as increased motor vehicles, all contribute to the increasing levels of ‘greenhouse gases’, substances ‘blamed’ for the Earth’s rising temperature.

The media bombards the public with warnings and scientific “fact” (that vary completely from source to source) demonstrating that our Earth is, in fact, becoming hotter…which isn’t a bad thing if you ask me 😉

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) states that, in the Southern Hemisphere, 2009 was the warmest year since records began in 1880. Yet, despite information like this from such established sources, many skeptics believe that societies bid to try and reverse climate change through our behavior is simply idiotic.  At the forefront of this argument is Australian author, Ian Pilmer, who states on the blurb of his book ‘Heaven + Earth’, that “The hypothesis that humans can actually change climate is unsupported by evidence from geology, archaeology, history and astronomy”.

….compelling stuff huh?

There may be lots of one sided arguments from both supporters and skeptics alike but it is my initial impression that the media positions the audience to see Global Warming as a very real and imminent threat. Throughout the coming weeks I’ll be investigating the Media’s influence over headlines and discussion involving this issue and how the general public see it at a glance.

– Orcadia

Sources:

2012, ‘Global Warming’, The New York Times, 16th Feb [online]. Available at:

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/globalwarming/index.html[Accessed 14 March 2012]

2011. ‘The 10 Most respected Global Warming Skeptics’, Business Insider, 30th July [online]. Available at:

http://www.businessinsider.com/the-ten-most-important-climate-change-skeptics-2009-7#ian-plimer-7

[Accessed 14 March 2012]

NASA 2010, James E. Hansen. Online. [Accessed 14 March 2012]

http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20100121/.