Did Live Earth’s Flop Reduce Media Interest in Global Warming?
A funny thing happened a few days after Al Gore’s concerts to draw attention to global warming concluded: a significant study out of England stating that changes in the sun’s output are not responsible for climate change went almost thoroughly ignored by America’s media.
A report by the BBC on Tuesday, which demonstrably challenged one of the key arguments made by anthropogenic global warming skeptics, would normally have been greeted with great enthusiasm by press representatives in the States always looking to highlight stories supporting their green agenda.
Yet, of the major American news organizations, only Bloomberg gave this new study any attention:
Recent global warming isn't a result of solar radiation, scientists said, disputing a theory advanced by some researchers as an alternative to the United Nations' view that temperatures are rising as a result of human activities.
The scientists examined historical records of solar activity over the past century, studying measures such as the number of sunspots and the amount of light emitted. They found that the total radiation from the sun peaked in 1985, according to Mike Lockwood, co-author of the paper published today in the U.K. journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.
Sounds like something our media should have eaten up, wouldn’t you agree? Yet, none did.
Could this be connected to Live Earth’s massive flop? Well, ABCNews.com published an article Thursday suggesting such (emphasis added):
But are Americans experiencing "green fatigue"? The ratings for Live Earth, which was billed as a must-see event, were dismal. The American broadcast drew just 2.7 million viewers, making it the least-watched U.S. program on Saturday night. Despite its undeniable entrenchment in pop culture and media, some experts say that the current incarnation of the green movement is just another "We Are the World" moment that consumers and businesses won't be able to sustain over the long term.
Quite an indictment just five days after these much-heralded concerts, wouldn’t you agree? The Los Angeles Times wasn’t even this kind in its assessment of this event in a piece called “Live Earth Dead” (emphasis added):
The good news for Al Gore is that his Live Earth concert highlights show on NBC, designed to raise public awareness about global warming, attracted some 19 million viewers at one point or another Saturday night, according to Nielsen ratings released late yesterday.
The bad news is that more than 16 million of those folks switched away from the three-hour concert that consumed the network's prime time Saturday evening.
This left NBC with about 2.7 million viewers to earn fourth place for the night behind ABC with 3.4 million, Fox with 4.6 million and CBS with 5.2 million.
In Britain, the BBC reported 3.1 million watched the show, which was less than a third of the 11.4 million audience for the Princess Diana concert two weeks ago.
Yikes. Those are some absolutely horrible numbers which must have garnered the attention of news producers and editors across the globe making climate change stories less appealing at the current time.
Of course, another reason Lockwood’s paper may have been ignored is due to its obvious flaws. As Marc Sheppard pointed out at the American Thinker Wednesday:
However, observe they, the sun's magnetic field has declined since 1985, even as the world heats up. It is the "rapid rise in global mean temperatures" during this 22 year period ALONE which they claim "cannot be ascribed to solar variability."
Imagine that-- less than a quarter of a century? Even though old Sol has been bombarding us with its warming rays for over 4.5 billion years and clear Sun/Climate correlations have been observed spanning millennia.
Is it possible media recognized that Lockwood’s study indeed confirmed a sun/climate relationship prior to 1985, and that using just the recent 22-year disjoint as proving anything – assuming that is even the case – is quite specious in the grand scheme of things?
Regardless of the answer, ABC certainly feels this global warming movement might have peaked:
According to unpublished NPD Group data, while 57 percent of people are interested in eco-friendly products, only 19 percent believe that they are worth paying extra money for or that they actually make a difference.
"A lot of the companies are a lot more interested in speaking in the environmental conversation" than effecting real change, [Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for NPD Group] said, and savvy consumers are beginning to realize that.
"'If they don't make it easy for me, then I'm not going to be bothered with it,'" Cohen said, describing what consumers have told him in his research. "'I'm not willing to sacrifice my money to do that.'"
This attitude was reflected in concertgoers who attended Live Earth, he said.
"The majority of the people at the rock concert -- they believed that it was good information, but they're not going to change their lifestyle because of it," he said.
There apparently is great precedent for environmental fads to peter out with time:
This isn't the first time green has gone chic, according to Robert Thompson, the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.
"Of course we've been through this before -- the whole consciousness about pollution [when] we had the first Earth Day" in 1970, Thompson said. "There was a real kind of environmental awareness. Then it began to sort of fade away."
"Causes that have long-term staying power tend to be those that are affecting our everyday life in ways that we actually recognize," Thompson said. Typically, the environment has not been one of those causes, he continued.
As long ago as 1972, the waning attention span of the American public for environmental issues has been reported. That year, Anthony Downs, a Brookings Institute scholar, wrote a paper called "The Issue Attention Cycle" about how environmental issues are perceived by the public.
The paper details five stages from a public unaware of the problem to an enthusiastic response and finally to waning enthusiasm. The cycle has held up with environmental issues over the years.
Will global warming alarmism suffer the same fate? Certainly, it’s too early to tell.
However, it should also be noted that in the week following these concerts, two major media outlets have suddenly taken on the bottled water issue. NewsBusters reported here and here that ABC’s “World News” has suddenly focused on this matter, beginning the Sunday after Live Earth.
Some coincidence, wouldn’t you agree?
And, the aforementioned ABCNews.com article reported the following:
This fall, Women's Health, which declined to speak to ABCNEWS.com because it was just beginning its planning process, announced Monday that it will release a "blue" issue this fall, focusing on issues surrounding water.
Similarly, bottled water, both for its nonrecyclable containers and its production costs, has become an environmental hot topic. High-profile mayors like Gavin Newsom in San Francisco and Rocky Anderson in Salt Lake City banned the use of bottled water in government offices, while nationwide some restaurants are eliminating it from their menus as well.
In a report last week, ABC News crunched the numbers on bottled water -- taking into account mileage and fuel requirements -- and found that even before you drink that one-liter (or 33.8 ounce) bottle of French water in Chicago, you've already consumed roughly 2 ounces of oil, which doesn't include the petroleum used to make the plastic. In addition, the entire process -- bottling, packaging and shipping -- creates pollution and greenhouse gases.
Will blue then become the new green? Only time will tell.
The reality is that if ABC News is beginning to punt on global warming, other outlets may also be looking at the dismal ratings of Live Earth, and recognizing that this hysteria has run its course. After all, the alarmism began with Hurricane Katrina which is approaching its second anniversary. If 2007 ends up being as weak a tropical storm year as 2006, the fear evoked from images out of New Orleans might completely dissipate as will the public’s faith in meteorologists and climatologists predicting such catastrophic events.
Without such natural disasters, the public’s interest in spending money on thwarting this liberal bogeyman might evaporate quicker than a raindrop on a Phoenix sidewalk in the middle of summer.