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There's a lot of important stuff happening in the world today.  Unfortunately, for a lot of people the important news is being drowned out by our media's obsession with reporting mindless sensationalistic crap instead.  For example, did you know a double amputee from South Africa, named Oscar Pistorius, who competed in the Olympics as a sprinter, is charged with the gruesome murder his wife girlfriend, a beautiful model?  You should be.  A Google news search turns up 169 million results.  Someone must think that sordid tale is worth telling.

A far more important news story is the danger posed by climate change.  Well, I think it's an important news story.  But is the news of the single greatest threat humanity faces as reported upon as much as the murder by a celebrity athlete of his young wife?  Well let's see.  Google the word climate and then click on the news tab.  Guess what?  You'll get a search result showing roughly 2,500,000 stories, give or take a few million.  Narrow it down further to "Climate change" and you find only a little over 200,000 stories.  Even when you narrow you Pistorius search to "Pistorius" and "murder" you still get almost 14 Million results.

In short, news stories about Oscar Pistorius killing his wife girlfriend are 69.5 times more prevalent on the internet than stories about climate change.   Admittedly, the Pistorius murder case is horrific and due to the celebrity involved somewhat worthy of attention. But sixty-nine point five effing times more worthy?

If that disparity in news coverage seem a little strange to you, it shouldn't.   In the real world, climate change is occurring and its effects are being felt far sooner, and are far worse, than climate scientists had predicted.  It's the ultimate doomsday apocalyptic event.  But even as fast as it is happening, that's still not fast enough to make climate change as sexy a story for the news media as the story of a famous disabled Olympic athlete shooting his wife girlfriend to death.  Indeed, television news programs seemingly go out of their way to avoid discussing the issue of climate change.

My guess is that a prominent scientific organization could announce that climate change poses the risk of extinction for the entire human race and we would still see more coverage of the sordid murder of Oscar Pistorius' wife girlfriend by -- Oscar Pistorius!  Because that's just the way our cultural attention span works, or that's what our news media covers.  

Of course, it's not just Pscar Pistorius who is deemed more worthy of news coverage than our greatest nemesis.  Consider the not so giant asteroid headed to earth (even though it won't hit us or do much of anything to effect life on the planet as it merrily flies by) - Four million results on a Google news search!  Thousands of people protest on behalf of a real threat to life on earth - 23,000 results.  Meh, who cares? says our somnolent news media.

Heck, even when they do massively cover climate change issues its usually for the wrong reasons.  Does anyone remember Climategate?  The news media was all over that bogus scandal like flies on bullshit.  Coverage of the fact that the so-called scandal wasn't a scandal at all?  Crickets for the most part.  The media had "moved on."

The news media, and in particular the corporately owned news media (which controls all the television networks and news programming) is not our friend, though I'm sure most of you already knew that.  They'd rather spend weeks in a South African courtroom than two seconds talking to a climate activist, much less a climate scientist (unless of course that scientist is a "skeptic").  The TV news media is like a drug that fogs your brain, distorts reality, and creates delusions.  In a word, it makes you stupid.  And I say that with all due respect for the few news anchors on MsNBC that make an effort to stem the tide of infotainment journalism.

What's the answer to a news media infatuated with reporting sensationalistic "reporting" of matters of very little significance other than appealing to our basest prurient instincts?  No offense to the family of Reeva Steenkamp, Oscar Pistorius' dead wife girlfriend, but much like the OJ Simpson case, or the Jon Benet Ramsey case, or any "White Girl missing" case, how does society benefit from our media's obsessions with such matters?

I do not believe the answer will come from journalists suddenly changing their modus operandi, or from protesters in the streets, or from the scientists who have been warning us for decades of the dangers of global warming. The answer won't come from the mainstream, or politicians, or established institutions.  We need what, in another century was referred to as, a Great Awakening.  Fortunately we have the communication tools available to us in social media and the internet to make such a thing happen, one person at a time, if need be.  But that requires a lot of ordinary people organizing themselves in true grass roots fashion to spread the message that climate change is real, that the threat is more dangerous than most people believe, and that despite the naysayers who claim nothing can be done, there are actions we can take here and now to reverse the path humanity is on.

Some of you have already begun organizing yourselves into the beginnings of the movement we need to create.  The folks who have organized around opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline are a great example of what can be done, and what we need to do.  But we need to scale up that approach.  Everyday some crazy, obnoxious tea party types send out millions of emails that spread lies and distortions, many about the issue of climate change.  At the very least we should be matching that intensity, and that passion.  After all, we have the benefit of a telling a story that is true, that is based on facts and hard scientific research, not lies and fantasies.

You can start by tweeting or emailing to your friends and family every story about climate change you come across, whether its the arctic sea ice disappearing, the connection of green house gas emissions and rising global temperatures to extreme weather events (heat waves, droughts, floods, blizzard, typhoons/hurricanes), or studies showing that our addiction to burning fossil fuels is causing the greatest mass extinction of plant and animal species in the last 65 million years, i.e. since a really really big asteroid actually hit the earth.  And even more important, republish stories about alternatives to fossil fuels and new technologies that can lead the way to a sustainable future.

Will you annoy some people, even among your close relatives?  I guarantee that you will.  Will some of them "unfriend" you on Facebook?  Yes, undoubtedly.  But you will also awaken others to the need to address climate change now.  Right now most people accept that climate change is occurring.  Far fewer of them understand how fast that change is occurring and what needs to be done about it if we are to minimize the impact of adding trillions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year.

If you feel that you don't understand the issues well enough, then get yourself educated.  Here's a great place to start with links that help even the most science-phobic among us understand why our climate is a changing.  Some other websites and blogs I recommend include:

Skeptical Science

The Climate Reality Project

DeSmogBlog

Now get going.  Oscar Pistorius can wait.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

    by Steven D on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:39:43 PM PST

  •  The Pistorius case (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevej, bronte17

    is relevant to the contemporary gun control debate, and it's a false choice that caring about one means not caring about the other.

    Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

    by Loge on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:44:05 PM PST

    •  I respectfully disagree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli, Ramoth

      One it's in South Africa, not the US.

      Two, there a a bazillion more relevant gun deaths that occur each day in the US that speak to the gun control debate in this country far better than Oscar Pistorius murdering his wife.

      "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

      by Steven D on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:52:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  the legal ramifications are different, (0+ / 0-)

        but the gun culture of the Afrikaans is a lot like ours, and this is a good example of the flaws with the guns protect women rather than expose them to further risk from their abusers argument if he's guilty; and the underaccounted problems with the "castle" doctrine, to say nothing of stand your ground if he's not.  But the larger point is that while climate change itself is certainly not boring, lectures about media consumption habits are.

        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

        by Loge on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:57:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Respectful disagreement doesn't make it better (0+ / 0-)

        South Africa has the highest rate of sexual violence in the world.

        A woman is raped every 26 SECONDS in South Africa. It has the highest rape rate per capita IN THE WORLD.

        This has everything to do with the degradation of women and disrespect. It is not just a WHITE woman thing.

        Reeva Steenkamp, the very nice dead young woman, wanted to highlight the violence against the women in her nation. She campaigned against the violence aimed at women and had planned to honor Anene Booysen, the young black teen gang-raped and killed just two weeks ago in South Africa.

        And Reeva was NOT Pisstori's wife. Why do you insist on degrading her REPEATEDLY like that? What is the point? It has some intrinsic meaning to you because you took great pains to repeatedly hit that point.

        Finally, Reeva was murdered with a gun and illegal bullets and hatred. If Pisstori had NOT had the gun, he could never have made the specious claim that he "made a mistake." That he really "didn't mean to do it."

        The gun makes it too easy to deflect responsibility. So, yes, the case has everything to do with the gun control discussion.


        One may live without bread, but not without roses.
        ~Jean Richepin
        Bread & Roses

        by bronte17 on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 03:35:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  ever so tangentially (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Steven D

      In any event, this isn't an angle that the news media has picked up on, sadly, so even that relevance is missed by the fourth estate.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:53:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, i'm not about to defend (0+ / 0-)

        the media's treatment of gun violence, generally, but I've definitely seen the Pistorius story discussed in this context.  To be fair,the first that comes to mind is an online article in Mother Jones.

        Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.

        by Loge on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:59:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  lol (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Loge

          I've had that happen to where I find that its mother jones and the like that's doing the coverage.  Sadly, you are quite right.

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:06:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great diagnosis and I like the action ideas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steven D

    I have to say this is one of the man maddening aspects of this.  Trying to cut past the denialists and the misinformation is frustrating, even here.

    Thanks!

    Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

    by Mindful Nature on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 12:53:03 PM PST

  •  To be fair... (0+ / 0-)
    Consider the not so giant asteroid headed to earth (even though it won't hit us or do much of anything to effect life on the planet as it merrily flies by) - Four million results on a Google news search!  Thousands of people protest on behalf of a real threat to life on earth - 23,000 results.
    ...if that giant asteroid's course had been different by just a few fractions of a degree, it would also be a very real threat to life on earth.

    To the extent that the news coverage of the asteroid results in more funding for asteroid detection and more research into the potential interdiction of earth-bound asteroids, it's dealing with the very thing that did cause all of those extinctions 65 million years ago—and could very well do the same, or worse, in the present.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:05:58 PM PST

  •  Frustrating (0+ / 0-)

    At least it's more the Pistorius affair is more appropriate than the 367,000 results a search in Google News gives "Kim Kardashian".

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:18:13 PM PST

  •  She wasn't his wife... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steven D

    ... she was his girlfriend of a few months.  Please correct this in your diary.

    I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

    by Hey338Too on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:24:08 PM PST

    •  Facts: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Steven D
      Pistorius, 26, had said in an affidavit read in court on Tuesday that he and his girlfriend had gone to bed on 13 February and that when he awoke in the early hours of the morning he detected what he thought was an intruder in the bathroom.
      The detective leading the police investigation into Oscar Pistorius' fatal shooting of his girlfriend offered confusing testimony on Wednesday, at one point agreeing with the athlete's defence that officers had no evidence challenging the runner's claim he accidentally killed her.

      I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

      by Hey338Too on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:28:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Climate change is important, but it's not news. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steven D

    Pistoras isn't important, but he is.

  •  As a person who: (0+ / 0-)

    Went to the Keystone XL protests last year to circle the White House

    and

    A person who went to this Sunday's protest

    and

    As a person who owns a Volt that has enabled me to reduce my direct gasoline consumption by 90% (indirect is a whole other matter)

    and as a person who identifies as a "conservative" and is a registered Republican to boot, may I suggest that instead of railing against human fallibility and our general unseriousness as a species, that it would be better to harness our fallibilities and general unseriousness instead of lament them?

    Don't get me wrong, I wish I could have a lot more serious conversations about a wide variety of topics.  And AGW is about as serious as it gets.  But humans are what they (well we) are.   So the point is not to lament what we are but to offer reasonable alternatives to incessant mindless diversion.

    By that I mean that we shouldn't chastise people for engaging in moments of frivolity, gossip and entertainment but that we should encourage moderation in those pursuits and suggest ways that serious action can be taken and that includes combatting AGW.

    PS It is clear "my" party is causing a lot of problems in combatting AGW but, not to be rude, or unneccesarisly confrontational, but how many Democrats have actually taken concrete steps to combat AGW?  I agree that government action is required but what percentage of people on this site have taken even a handful of steps to be more responsible in their carbon footprint?

    Once again, I don't mean this as a Republican vs Democrat issue because it is clear, in general, who is making a difference and who sticks up for the status quo.  But there comes a point where pointing fingers at others is pointless and taking actions in our own personal lives is important and I don't see enough action out of most people regardless of party affiliation.

    We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

    by theotherside on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 03:35:25 PM PST

  •  I personally felt the diarist (0+ / 0-)

    was more criticizing the media vs. those who consume the media.  The Pistorious story is almost impossible to get away from nowadays; believe me, I've tried!  Even NPR has spent a great deal of time on it.  I think a lot of ppl still consume the news without necessarily liking what the news is covering.  My parents, for example, are a good example of this; they often have the TV on CNN all day, and then complain that they don't like what is being covered.  The media becomes fascinated with something and then tries to thrust it onto the public whether Americans at large are interested in it or not.  

    As for guns vs. the climate, sorry guys: IMHO gun control is important, but not nearly as important as climate change.  I personally feel that gun control is another media "red herring" issue that distracts people from the absolute emergency that is climate change.  Divide and conquer, folks: every time we descend into another divisive debate re: gun control, we are taking our eyes off the ball re: climate change.  Of course, it's easy for me to be zen about gun control because it's just not one of my "hot button" issues.  I don't really care either way about guns.  But I am irritated to hear so much about it in the news when I feel like there are other, more important, things to talk about.  

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