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When will the impacts of climate change become “news” again?

It’s hard to avoid the news of climate change these days. There are epic heat waves. There are power outages. There are droughts. Huge floods in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Record number of storms in the Gulf of Mexico this year. Crazy wildfires in Colorado and Utah.

But yet…where is this all in the national debate? Aside from great websites like PlanetSave,  the news in general is covering these events as if they are  completely unique, totally unrelated, and 100% unrelated to any larger picture. Politicians, of course, will not even venture to discuss the term climate change anymore…it’s become that toxic politically.

I think it’s fairly straightforward that a price on carbon would drive innovation, just like creating policies like privatizing the highway system that level the playing field for local manufacturers would create jobs and reduce pollution. But it’s just not that simple. Unfortunately policies like this take time, and we’re in an election year. Anything that happens will have to have an immediate impact, such as shortsighted programs like the Keystone XL pipeline.

It doesn’t change the bottom line, though, and that is that the media is covering climate change, but not naming it as such. Here’s a recent post by the ultra-progressive (kidding) Salt Lake Tribune (a newspaper that is owned by the Mormon Church) about drought disaster areas:

Brings new meaning to red states, no? At least in this case, it’s the red states that are being hardest hit by the climate change they most fervently deny exists. That’s certainly not always the case…environmental justice has a long history of the polluters polluting, and the people paying the price with their health and local economies who often have nothing to do with the pollution itself.

So what do you think? How do we get climate change to be a message that is holistic, not scary, proactive, and solutions oriented? In other words, how do we get the media to pick it back up and start educating the masses?


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Photo from Shutterstock

Written by Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride.


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