• Why Do People Care More About Beyoncé Than Deforestation?

Green Energy

Why Do People Care More About Beyoncé Than Deforestation?

May 03 2015

If the Facebook Trending section is to be believed, the majority of people using the social network are far more concerned with the sartorial choices of the Kardashian family over actual world events.

This is precisely the concern of environmental organisations around the world, as a recent report revealed that environmental issues received less than 1% of the entire media coverage in 2014 – lagging far behind the likes of Beyoncé. In 2014, the US media produced just 192 stories about deforestation, while Beyoncé was discussed 2193 times, which begs the question: do people care about Beyoncé more than the destruction of forests?

It isn’t all bad news, as the report highlighted an increase in news coverage for environmental affairs in the past four years, but surely more can and should be done to increase visibility in mainstream media. While rainforests contribute around 20% of oxygen to our atmosphere, Beyoncé contributes exactly none, so surely we should be more concerned with the former and less concerned with the latter’s choice of outfit at Coachella.

The report published by the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage revealed that climate change is by far the sexiest news topic, followed closely by fresh water quality/scarcity, while environmental justice and deforestation come in at the bottom of the list. The report also revealed the winners and losers over the past five years, as demonstrated by an increase or decrease in coverage. While fresh water quality/scarcity enjoyed a 36% increase in coverage, renewable energy coverage dropped by 26%. 

Other key findings revealed a steady decline in media coverage of environmental issues from 2010 until it hit rock bottom in 2013, followed by a sharp increase of more than 17% in 2014.  While media coverage may be on the rise, there is still a long way to go to getting the environment the coverage it needs and deserves. It’s not through a lack of interest that environmental issues fail to make the cut with the media, according to a Gallup poll from 2014, 66% of Americans worry about the environment either “a great deal” or “a fair amount”.

Todd Pollak, co-director of the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage said: “the environment intersects with a number of other issue areas people care a great deal about, like health, the economy and national security to name a few.” With many newsrooms axing their environmental reports and editors, there are some beacons of hope, namely organisations such as the Washington Post, the Guardian, Huffington Post and Vox prioritising coverage of environmental issues.

So what’s the solution? Unless Beyoncé is willing to base her next album around the rapid deforestation of the Amazon, the only other hope we have is for media outlets to continue to address the imbalance in coverage. As Pollak notes, “Society has a narrow window of time to prevent irreversible changes to the earth’s life sustaining systems. Changes to the environment, by definition, affect everyone.” Even Queen Bey.

To see how climate change is affecting our forests, read our article: Forests under threat from climate change. And to see how we can make a change read: What Would Happen if We Stopped Polluting Today?


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