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No News is Not Good News

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Kokopelli Spirit
February, 2000


I'm sure we all agree the whole Y2K thing was a complete let down. The only tragedy being the television coverage brought to the world by the Stepford people at ABC/Disney. The amount of money being spent to televise such empty drivel was as annoying as it was insulting. I tuned in long enough to watch the century shift in Japan and China, not to mention the barrage of commercials for everything human. Buy now pay later seemed to be the general theme.

Being a young man of 36, you would think that I would be used to this by now. I'm not. Like it or not, television is a powerful tool, what angers me is this "tool" is being used to dismantle the planet. By sheer numbers we have overwhelmed the biotic community to which we are intricately connected. By our insatiable greed we are slowly killing it. And all the while the talking heads chatter on, talking about everything, except for what matters.

At least three oil spills surfaced in the network news in January 2000, yet all quickly sank to make way for the really important stuff, like Jane Fonda's separation and the latest breakthrough in designer drugs, denial must be at the root of this. Have you ever noticed that when a human tragedy occurs, the news media can't get enough of the suffering. But if it is an environmental issue, with no immediate human fatalities, they are sure no one is interested, and quickly move on. Out of site, out of mind only works for so long.

The aftermath of a Christmas eve oil spill continues to foul the French coast line. On January 18, 2000 a leaking oil pipe was responsible for 338,000 gallons of crude oil spewed into Rio De Janeiro's Guanabara Bay. Four days later some 94,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, when the Poseidon Pipeline, owned by Equilon Pipeline Co. of New Orleans, was ruptured after an eight ton anchor was accidentally dropped from an oil rig. The seven mile long oil slick 75 miles south of the nearest land was cleaned up with the help of chemicals being used to disperse it. All of this got less than 5 minutes worth of coverage, and none of it comprehensive.

What I want to know is where is the Environment Channel. And I am not talking about the warm and fuzzy Animal Channel, or the cold and brutal Outdoor Life Channel. What is needed is a channel that deals with breaking environmental issues in a profound way, and not just a bunch of pretty pictures. The Travel Channel lacks direction, and the Discovery Channel, wanting to be a lot of things to a lot of people, lacks any real sense of focus. What the world needs is a channel the promotes environmental awareness instead of the latest in hunting gear and trendy vacation spots.

In regards to the looming environmental crisis, ignorance is not bliss, and as soon as television programming executives understand this, the better. It would be easy to tell readers to kick their television addiction, but considering that I have been unable to do that, such a missive would be hypocritical. Perhaps the best course of action is to facilitate the greening of the boob tube. This could be done by writing letters to local news affiliates, as well as the cable channels, asking that they spend considerable more time and money on environmental news and programming.

Although I will admit to being a biocentric, tree-hugging, neoludite, I still feel television can be used to help heal the planet. This belief stems from the fact that billions of people worldwide depend on the television to tell them what to think. Currently the only message being broadcast is the one encouraging consumption at all costs, with any authentic education offered by television being wrapped in commercials so tightly it becomes indiscernible from the marketing around it. If you doubt this I invite you to watch the Travel Channel for conformation.

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