J500 Media and the Environment

Global warming doesn’t kill people. Blogs do. by Lauren Keith

Photo by Tayseer, flickr.com

It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your readers are?

They’re right here, you post procrastinator. They are breathing down your avatar’s neck, expectantly drooling on their keyboards, just waiting for you to hit the almighty “save” button.

You’ve been slaving away over a hot CPU all damn day, but in the world of the ever-impending deadline, readers don’t give a ctrl-alt-del.

The New York Times reported Sunday that two well-known technology bloggers suffered from heart attacks and have gone to meet their maker (presumably Al Gore).

It seems the stress of approaching deadlines is taking its toll everywhere.

Mother Nature knows for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for the (environment).

I fear the sixth great mass extinction will begin soon, this time arising from the deaths of environmentalists suffering from green fatigue.

We rush around: turning off the lights, unplugging unused toasters and TVs, digging through the garbage to find one man’s trash that’s another man’s trip to the recycling center and being a vegetarian even when your friends force you to join them for a Buffalo Wild Wings dinner.

But what satisfaction do we get, especially when we come home to find that our roommate has single-handedly chopped down the entire Amazon rainforest and transported its chipboard brothers and sisters to our living room?

The non-organic, petroleum-derived Doritos bag was my addition to this trip down the Amazon Trail.

With global warming putting an impending deadline on the survival of the human race, we need to take a step back before we hit “save” on our daily actions.

People demand news, now, never-ending. As bloggers, we need to make the climate crisis relevant but not redundant, to remember our deadline and to remind readers of theirs.

Don’t forget that you can stop and breathe for a second, but please divert your CO2 elsewhere.

—Lauren Keith

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4 Comments so far
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Lauren, I think the green fatigue concern is a real issue to confront especially with blogs. I sometimes worry if blogs become substitutes for actual boots-on-the-ground activism, which is a view some prominent media thinkers are taking. I wonder often what differentiates one green blog from the other. What exactly is the difference between the Grist blog and the Treehugger blog or our blog? I once heard Jeff Tweedy of Wilco fame say “the world doesn’t need more jam bands, the world needs more GOOD jam bands.” I think you could apply that same reasoning to green blogs. Do we have too many? Are any of them actually good? I think, as we saw in last week’s presentation from the VML communications people, blog technology isn’t for our eyes only. Savvy marketers understand how to use them to move products or jump start a viral campaign by convincing consumers to blog about those products positively. I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad, but it’s something we need to be aware of when we attempt to “market” a blog. Are we just marketing to other marketers or are we truly linking with likeminded individuals with similar interests? Are the “blog ecosystems” really just another, more scientific form of market segmentation? These are definitely things we should think about when we sit down to write.

-Vince Meserko

Comment by vincemeserko

Vince and Lauren – This question has been confounding me lately as well: Is our drop in the ocean of green activism big enough? I can’t say it’s hurting, and I definitely learn a lot from everything everyone writes, but I can’t help noticing there are lots of repeat posts when you take a quick trip through several green blogs. Each one has their own readership, so its good to repeat the information, but if all we do is read and write about it, who’s left to DO something about it? As one of my dear trusted friends who happens to be my boss said: “I feel the energy of your generation, but I have a hard time seeing its manifestations”. All of these issues are complicated, and we have to consider them carefully, but let’s not miss a chance to act while we have our thinking caps on.


Comment by jkongs


In addition to the questions raised about green blogs, what about anti-green blogs? What about all the blogs and other media outlets that claim global warming and any other environmental problems are not happening? When you add them to the mix, it’s hard to know if the needle is actually moving in the right direction, toward a cleaner, greener world.

In the last week, I’ve talked to several intelligent people, who seem to have an uniformed view of the direction we should be headed. One person was a firm believer in “Clean Coal.” He thought it was the fuel of the future. I tried to argue that it was not really clean and there are concerns about the sequestering of CO2 gases underground, that is a part of the refining process. He had no idea what I was talking about and I realized he wasn’t going to budge on his belief in this limited resource as being the answer to our fuel woes.

The point is, in a world of blogs, magazines, cable news networks and other media all targeted to specific demographics, it’s easier than ever for people to absorb whatever information they choose to absorb, even if that information is false.

It makes you wonder, if everybody is only hearing what they choose to hear and ignoring the rest, how will we move beyond the status quo?


Comment by dshawla

Green fatigue. Indeed. Someone said to me last week, don’t you wish every day was Earth Day I could only respond, “Not this month.”

I am often asked to repeat the same information over and over again. It makes me tired. But I suppose it’s because people didn’t get it the first time, or second time, or third. That’s cool, as long as I am able to continue to update information and add something of value to the mix. And I think that is what makes blogs useful – actually essential – to the movement.

Mainstream media is new to this conversation, bloggers have been around for awhile. TreeHugger has a stronger focus on consumer products, Grist goes a little deeper, and we also have our unique place (cool academic eco-blog?). And what you will notice about many of our posts and the posts of our fellow eco-bloggers is that there is a level of engagement you don’t find in most mainstream reportage. “I used this bag, I tried this food, I tallied my emissions”. . .that is all information that falls in the realm of blogs and enables many folks to connect in ways a Wall Street Journal article can’t.


Comment by j500

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