J500 Media and the Environment

“Exploit the Earth or Die” by matthewj77
October 24, 2008, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Business + Politics, Society + Media | Tags: , , , ,

I’m willing to bet that each of you mentally fought this concept the entire time you read it because of the way messages about global warming, sustainability, environmentalism, climate change, conservation, and as many other buzz words as you can think of to describe our world’s current situation have been framed.  But, it’s a valid message, and clearly demonstrates how difficult it is to present information in a new way.  Now, think about it this way – even if one of us, prior to taking this course, had no knowledge of the debate about energy and sustainability, after just three short weeks we still have way more knowledge than the majority of people in the world.  Not just the United States.  The world!  If it was difficult for you to consider this concept, think about how difficult it is for “Joe the Plumber” or “Jane the Accountant” to get on board.  With that in mind, CEP and organizations alike have a difficult road ahead of them.

First, read this  



As a society largely driven by the media and government where messages are delivered into our homes through television, Internet content, newspapers etc., the court of public opinion isn’t easily swayed unless there’s a catastrophic event.  A catastrophic event is factual, but all events leading up to it, it would seem, aren’t facts until proven by the catastrophic event.  So any messages warning of the possibility of something bad happening prior to the event taking place are mere speculation as long as a differing opinion exists.  In Katy Butler’s interview with George Lakoff, a linguist professor at the University of California at Berkeley, Lakoff stated, “frames trump the facts.”  He couldn’t be more right.

As for who speaks for nature?  While the article that started this stream of consciousness indicates there is a difference between nature and “man,” I disagree.  Isn’t humankind part of nature?  In speaking for nature, shouldn’t we be speaking for ourselves?  The ability to coexist with our surroundings indefinitely – this, if I’m not mistaken, is basically the definition of sustainability.

Matt Johnson


3 Comments so far
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What an interesting article you found to cite! Certainly not what I was expecting! You say that the CEP and other organizations might have trouble talking to “Joe the Plumber” about climate change. How would you propose to change “Joe’s” mind about the pending catastrophy?

Comment by susang09

I agree with you that educating people is going to be key to our future, but I’m concerned about where that education is going to come from. Like you said most messages come from media and government and since many people don’t trust either, how can that be changed or with what other ways can society be educated?

Comment by brookec08

I’ve been thinking about this all semester and I’m fully aware many others that work in this field and research these issues constantly are wondering the same thing. I eluded to this in my response to Jill’s post, but think it’s relevant here as well – segmentation. Like any marketing or communications plan, it’s best to first outline the objective, strategy and then tactics in delivering a message. When communicating environmental issues, we can’t simply take the approach of trying to craft messages that are relevant to everybody. “Joe’s” attitudes are almost certainly different than “Jane’s,” and definitely different than the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. So it’s imperative that we not take a top-down approach to communicating these issues. What we’re doing for the CEP makes complete sense. While the overall objective is to get a similar message out to these different groups, what we communicate, the way we say it and how we deliver it must be done in a way that is relevant to each audience.

Comment by matthewj77

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