I incessantly wonder why environmentalism isn't at the forefront of mainstream discourse. It affects all of us, and its solution so obviously relies on mass participation. It doesn't make sense, but I've unearthed a chilling conclusion why; 'the news' just doesn't consider it news.
Today I compared a cross-section of Australia's largest news websites for the amount of exposure awarded to environmental stories on their various homepages.
The results are frightening.
It's very, very slim pickings. I'd say a maximum of 2% of the screenspace I viewed had environmental information attached (and pretty much all of that had an abc.net.au URL).
Here's my results:
www.smh.com.au/ - no dedicated section of any kind. Exceptionally poor coverage on homepage - single story 3/4 down (long way!) with indirect reference: "How Climate Change Will Affect The Way We Exercise". No portal upon search of 'environment'.
www.theage.com.au/ - as above (I think they whisper underneath the same umbrella)
www.news.com.au/ - no dedicated section of any kind. Zero references on homepage. Basic and shallow Portal revealed upon search of 'environment'.
www.dailytelegraph.com.au/ - don't know why I bothered, may as well be a glossy tabloid. Predictably, no portal, no dedicated section of any kind, zero references on homepage. *Sigh*
www.theaustralian.com.au/ - no dedicated section of any kind. Zero references on homepage. No portal.
www.abc.net.au/ - dedicated Environment Portal, excellent quantity and variety of environmental news. Several direct environmental stories visible on top screen's worth of homepage.
As you can see, environmental news is overwhelmingly absent on our 'news' websites, most of whom don't seem willing to include any references to climate change at all. You'd think it wasn't happening, which sickeningly helps makes sense of such widespread inactivity in response to environmental crises - like I said, for the most part, 'the news' doesn't consider it news.
Except, of course, for the ABC! I'd recommend a visit. Lots of varied stories, inclusive and unbiased content.
Anyway, so then I tried searching 'environment' on the pages that didn't contain any references.
Once again, not a lot of sauce for your squeeze. news.com.au has a shallow portal with stories mostly pilfered from others sources. As for the others, forget it. Nada. Zip.
There's one particular story doing the rounds on most sites' 'Page 2' of results, entitled This Caterpillar Might Be Able To Solve Our Plastic Problem.
WOW, Rolls thought. How about *HUMANS Are *DEFINITELY Able To Solve *THEIR OWN Plastic Problem.
Don't we teach children to clean up after themselves?! People are absolutely capable of defeating plastic's evil grip on society, we just need to teach ourselves to say no to it.
I mean good grief, zero coverage and the best you can find is a story that basically says 'humans are going to make another animal clean up their toxic waste'. With crossed fingers I long for the day where this instead reads 'how humans are going to be mature and reverse their obsession with plastic, and in doing so acknowledge the root of the problem'.
The truly sad moral of this story is we that the only current database Australians can use for climate change news is the ABC. Other mainstream 'news' websites are a sad reflection of why so many people fail to reflect upon their environmental footprint for a single moment.
But not you! You're educated! You're informed! You have independence! Speak out about climate change if the magnitude of current events alarms you. The conversation needs to broaden, it needs more voices. Authorize yourself to live and lead by example; change is relying on it.