A Gradual Awakening: Climate Change in the Media 

After spending hours waving signs on street corners around Portland over the past three years, I have noticed an uptick in interest in my Climate Action Now! awareness message. Drivers have communicated their approval with smiles, thumbs-up, waves and honks. Pedestrians often come up and thank me for being out highlighting the issue.

During that time, I’ve become interested in how the media has been covering climate change and global warming. I’ve located several resources that track media coverage, including the Pew Research Center and the Media and Climate Change Observatory (MeCCO).

MeCCO monitors 131 sources, including newspapers, radio and TV, in 59 countries in seven different regions around the world. This multi-university collaboration is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder. Charts and figures on their website show media coverage broken down by major sources like the one below of US newspaper articles.

I was encouraged to see increasing numbers of articles and TV coverage from around the world focused on climate change and global warming.

The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, also tracks issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. A recent study of Climate, Energy & Environment data looked at Americans’ views of climate change. It showed a distinct political divide between Democratic leaning respondents and Republican leaning respondents. This association of climate with political affiliation is one of the many impacts of disinformation campaigns promoted by the fossil fuel industry to protect profits.

The Climate Action Tracker is another source for trends in sectors related to climate change. Funded by foundations and governments, the CAT is an independent scientific project that tracks government climate action and measures it against the Paris Agreement. The Tracker is focused on the drivers of climate change, not media coverage. You can search the tracker for information by country or region, industry type, measurable indicators and for historical data or current projections. 

I was happy to discover these measurable data sets related to climate change that supported my personal experience of a growing awareness in the local community. However, the slow pace of that awakening and lack of urgency toward addressing the horrific effects of global warming is frustrating. We are in a ‘State of Emergency’ and we must demand a massive climate action mobilization now! So make a sign and wave it like you mean it on a street corner near you. If enough people who support climate action get out on the streets it will have an impact.

About Pat Kaczmarek

Pat Kaczmarek has been a long time environmentalist, volunteering and working for a number of preservation and restoration groups over the years. In 2020, she became aware of the accelerating pace of global warming. Climate change awareness, education and outreach are now her central concerns because the future depends on our actions today.


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