It’s probably not a huge surprise that ocean acidification, a carbon-induced chemical change that poses a huge threat to sea life, gets way less media coverage than the Kardashians, a family of prancing ninnies that poses a huge threat to intellectual life. But Media Matters has quantified just how much the coverage differs, and it’s pretty sobering. Between January 1, 2011 and June 26, 2012, the Kardashians were mentioned 25 times more often than ocean acidification in newspapers, and a staggering 270 times more often on TV. In total, that’s almost a 50-fold lead for shapely ladies over environmental threats. Although when you put it that way, it’s not too surprising.
This isn’t even because the media is ridiculously Kardashian-saturated, although it is. Okay, so the family got 1,080 mentions on TV in a 17-month period; what else are they going to do? Getting mentioned on TV is their entire thing. What’s really shocking is that ocean acidification rated only four mentions, despite being a pretty severe concern:
Rising carbon dioxide emissions have caused the oceans to become around 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution, and if we do not lower the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, the ocean surface could be up to 150 percent more acidic by 2100. At that level, the shells of some plankton would dissolve, large parts of the ocean would become inhospitable to coral reef growth, and the rapidity of the change could threaten much of the marine food web. According to the National Research Council, the chemical changes are taking place “at an unprecedented rate and magnitude” and are “practically irreversible on a time scale of centuries.”
Newspapers aren’t much better. Keep in mind that this chart includes all mentions of ocean acidification, including scoffing denialism from the Wall Street Journal.
Media Matters wasn’t willing to draw the logical conclusion from this study, but I will: We need to get fish some breast implants and marry one to a football player, like NOW.
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