I think Time magazine holds the record for running the most cover stories about global warming over the last couple of decades, always without any subtlety, like the “Be Worried, Be Very Worried” cover here. It’s almost as if whenever Time’s editors are stuck for a cover, someone says, “Hey—let’s do global warming again! It’s such an easy story to write, and we can leave early from the office!” I’ve been predicting for a few years now that eventually Time’s editors would one day consider yet another big global warming cover, and finally some new young editor would yawn and say, “Bor-ing,” and they’d decide against it. It doesn’t help that special “Earth Day” issues of magazines have proven to be the worst-selling issues of the year on newsstands for the last several years. (That’s why Vanity Fair gave up its special April “green” issue.”)
So it’s notable when one of Time’s hippest young columnists, the egregious Joel Stein, knocks out a column saying essentially that environmentalists are basically a bunch of losers:
I knew no one cared about the environment. I knew it because people keep telling me how much they care about the environment. Yet somehow members of Generation Y have convinced older people that they are really, seriously, totally going to clean up the mess they were rudely left. . .
Turns out Gen Y is as green as an oil spill. In her study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology–which I normally get just for the pictures—[Jean] Twenge found that today’s high school seniors and college freshmen make far less effort to help the environment than baby boomers did at that age. Compared with boomers and Generation X-ers, Gen Y-ers are the least willing to cut down on driving and electricity use. “There was a lot more questioning of materialism in the 1970s. Now it’s just like, Let’s all live like the Kardashians,” she said. . .
We do stuff not to save the planet as much as to look as if we’re saving the planet. That means I need to spend a lot more on my food, clothing and appliances and let everyone know about it.
Sure enough, the climateers have their knickers in a bunch that media coverage of global warming is in free fall, just as I predicted it would. A study from DailyClimate.org finds that “Media coverage of climate change continued to tumble in 2011, declining roughly 20 percent from 2010′s levels and nearly 42 percent from 2009′s peak, according to analysis of DailyClimate.org’s archive of global media.” More:
The decline was seen across almost all benchmarks measured by the news service: 20 percent fewer reporters covered the issue in 2011 than in 2010, 20 percent fewer outlets published stories, and the most prolific reporters on the climate change beat published 20 percent fewer stories.
Particularly noticeable was the silence from the nation’s editorial boards: In 2009, newspapers published 1,229 editorials on the topic. Last year, they published less than 580 – half as many, according to DailyClimate.org’s archives.
(Hmm: the chart below kind of looks like the temperature trend of the last 30 years. I wonder if news media coverage causes climate change? Move over hockey stick. . .)
Of course, this merely confirms what I noted here on Power Line last week about how Tony Downs’ “issue-attention cycle” has finally caught up with environmentalism. What’s a world-saving social movement to do? Why, rebrand, naturally! As Politico reports, “There’s been a change in climate for Washington’s greenhouse gang, and they’ve come to this conclusion: To win, they have to talk about other topics, like gas prices and kids choking on pollutants. . . ‘We’re going to talk a lot about the health implications of dirty air,’ said Heather Taylor, director of NRDC’s political arm.”
Well good luck with that. It might have a slim chance of working if air pollution levels in the U.S. weren’t steadily falling and most indicators of basic health consistently improving. Enviros can yammer on all they want to about the supposed 50,000 premature deaths of year from air pollution (a purely statistical estimate based on extremely shaky and obsolete epidemiology), but you’ll be hard pressed to find many citizens in the Midwest who actually knows anyone who died from air pollution, though I’m sure, in the best spirit of Potemkin Village, green groups can trot out several such people for a press conference. Just show me the death certificates, please.
This makes prediction easy: when this tactic doesn’t work, expect more rounds of soul-searching and yet another brilliant scheme of “rebranding.”