The Gulf oil spill in context and how we the media get it wrong again
This past week, my cohort on the Wednesday Science took me to task for not being more vociferous in my outrage regarding the massive BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill that is all the rage in the news these days. It has made me think a bit about the context of all of this and placed a little clarity in the situation.It also helped to read the latest article in the marvelous web site dedicated to climatology, reaclimate.org.While the massive oil spill is an egregious assault against nature motivated by greed, it is also a perfect example of how the media gets it wrong yet again, regarding what is news and what is not.While the gulf spews oil, we the media, spill metaphorical ink that has at least as toxic. It misleads our viewers, readers and listeners. Some might think I am splitting hairs and maybe even comparing apples and oranges, but allow me to explain.The Gulf oil spill, taken in context, against the backdrop of the unbelievable sucking of crude from the lithosphere, is but a pinprick of the gargantuan outflow of oil we send into our environment. With the more than 700 million cars and trucks, 2 billion small engines and thousands of hydro electrical plants, we consume every day, some 5,000 times the 40,000 barrels per day of oil that is now headlining our media focus. That is an unbelievable 30 billion barrels oil per year to fuel our greed and way of life!!!!All of this winds up in the atmosphere, oceans and ground as it is pumped, transported, burned, refined and consumed as we go on in our daily lives. It acidifies our oceans, destroying our reefs, creating ever expanding dead zones, heats up the atmosphere, and pollutes the very ground walk and live on while our ever expanding fossil fuel driven quest for more continues unabated.While it breaks my heart to see the devastation in the Gulf, our media gets it wrong again. It is not the Gulf spill that should be the news. It is but a pimple in the vast cancer of our fossil fuel inspired growth. The BP spill allows the media to create an immediate photo-op masquerading as news, that distracts us from the overall devastation that happens daily in far away places and eco-systems without voters, jobs and lost incomes to splash all over our collective consciousness. The millions and millions of stacks that spew CO2 are the story. The way of life that demands the continued growth of people, consumption and its attendant pollution is the real news. The inability of our media to understand what is real news is the story. Sorry. Our media is just ambulance chasing yet again.
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