It has become pretty much a buzzword today; so if you bandy the words “environment”, “green”, “eco-friendly” and the like, you’re probably going to go up a notch in the respect department of those who believe that it is our duty to conserve and preserve what’s left of our environment. However, there’s a big difference between talk and action, and that’s where the media comes in when it’s a matter of environmental awareness. It’s easy to report about the need for environmental awareness; it’s easy to talk about the atrocities that are being committed on Planet Earth; and it’s easy to malign the perpetrators who rape Mother Nature and defile her purity. What’s not easy is to actually take the necessary action to prevent those who ill-treat the environment from continuing to do so; what’s not easy is to raise enough awareness so that more people realize the harm we’re doing to our world; and what’s really hardest is actually doing something positive to save the environment from the degradation that it’s being subjected to. Today, the online media is has much more power than it did even a few years ago because:
  • More and more people are looking to the Web for their daily dose of news instead of watching television or reading the newspaper.
  • You can access news about any part of the world from any corner of the globe, without having to move an inch.
  • Climate change has brought about many dramatic consequences, so what happens in one end of the Earth is of interest on the other end too.
  • News from the web can be pushed to handheld devices like mobile phones, and this makes it easier to access breaking headlines and hot news.
  • It’s easier to promote news on the Internet because of the viral effect – it’s like the local grapevine, only on an electronic scale; the best way to get news to travel fast is to put it on social networks with the largest number of connections.
As you can see, the online media commands much more respect these days and is more influential than ever before. So it could theoretically play a vital role in raising environmental awareness all over the world. However, there are hurdles to this objective:
  • One of them is that a large part of the world’s population has no access to the Internet because they lack the necessary funds and/or education.
  • The next issue is that those who do have access don’t care one way or the other – as long as they’re not directly affected, they just go about their day-to-day affairs as if nothing ails the environment.
  • The third and most significant of them is that the media does not stay faithful to the cause – it reports news that is sensational and which makes a splash, like the Gulf oil spill that plagued the Gulf of Mexico – the cleanup is still going on, months after it happened. But the media has moved on to other issues, there is no follow-up to show how much of the damage has been contained, how the lives of those who have been affected have changed, and if the guilty were punished and brought to book.
In the world of news, only the now counts; the past is forgotten, and that’s why we cannot look forward to a bright future. The online media must play a greater role in helping the past act as a looking glass into the future, and in doing so, it must raise awareness of how to prevent the mistakes of the past from being repeated in the present; only then can we truly say that it helps in creating and spreading environmental awareness.