Edward Abbey was here

EEdward Abbey wrote this about 39 years ago and never was it more true than now.

And the Enemy says, “Behold, how sleek and fat I have become. Am I not the wonder of the world?…”

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Visual Environmental Communication book

Visual Environmental CommunicationRoutledge has a new book out now on Visual Environmental Communication, edited by Anders Hansen and David Machin. The book contains a number of papers that were part of a special issue of Environmental Communication. My paper with Bruno Takahashi, “The Nature of Time: How the Covers of the World’s Most Widely-Read Weekly News Magazine Visualize Environmental Affairs” is included in the book.

It’s a great collection of papers, certainly suitable for a course. And in case you are wondering, I get no money from the book sales. I signed the paper over to Routledge and that’s that. Continue reading

What should environmental and sustainability communication focus on?

What should environmental and sustainability communication focus on?

Should it emphasize the science of environmental issues or the risk of what could be lost? Should it focus on the responsibility people have to do something? Should it stress the future we want and the implications for nature? These are complex questions that we should be asking before we start talking about what frames, language, and images to use in our communications. Continue reading

Wondering where the lions are

On media and the natural world…

As you may have gathered, I sometimes watch TV. I also watch movies; surf the ‘net; read books, magazines and newspapers; listen to radio and recorded music; and play the odd video game with my kids. Like many people, I consume a lot of media in any given day. And I enjoy most of what I read, listen to, and watch. In other words, I think it’s worthwhile.

But I’m also very concerned about the fact that in this society we use so much media and that so much of it does little more than promote consumerism, anthropocentrism and a self-centered outlook on life.

As I have written elsewhere, Bill McKibben reached an obvious, but profound conclusion from the experiment he conducted on himself by watching 2000 hours of cable television. As he describes it in his book, The Age of Missing Information, the overwhelming message emanating from the tube in the US is: “You are the most important thing on Earth … All things orbit your desires.” It’s no wonder our culture has such disregard for the natural world.

At best, the contemporary media landscape is a powerful distraction from the living world of fellow animals, trees, rivers and mountains. At worst, it is a force that dangerously distorts our understanding of nature and encourages subtle and overt violence to the planet. Wondering where the lions are, as the title of the Bruce Cockburn song asks? Pretty soon they may only be on TV and in zoos.

I believe that it doesn’t have to be this way. We can have a media system that fosters critical engagement with environmental issues and problems, healthy relationships with the rest of nature, and a culture of sufficiency and sustainability. And it doesn’t have to be boring.

TV & Nature

The Nature of Time: How the Covers of the World’s Most Widely-Read Weekly News Magazine Visualize Environmental Affairs

Time-1970-02-02Mark S. Meisner & Bruno Takahashi “The Nature of Time: How the Covers of the World’s Most Widely-Read Weekly News Magazine Visualize Environmental Affairs,” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Vol.7 No.2, pp. 255-276, 2013.

Abstract

Scholars of environmental communication acknowledge the importance of visual representations in shaping perceptions and actions in relation to environmental affairs. Unlike with other media, including newspapers, television and film, research on the visualization of nature and environmental issues in magazines is rare. This study focuses on the covers of Time magazine, one of the world’s most influential news weeklies. A data set that includes all relevant covers from 1923 to 2011 is examined using a combination of quantitative and qualitative content analysis to analyze the visual representation of nature and environmental issues. The results show that the presence of environmental issues and nature on the covers has increased over the decades. Furthermore Time takes an advocacy position on some environmental issues, but it is a shallow one that is weakly argued through less-than-engaging imagery and fails to offer much in the way of solutions or agency to the reader.

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Miami’s Vice

Florida may be leading America’s slide into ignorance, weirdness and triviality, but it’s a fine comic target for Carl Hiaasen. Continue reading

The Doctor Knows Best

The BBC’s much-loved sci-fi series, Doctor Who, offers lessons in celebrating and defending all life. Continue reading

Beware False Idles

Ads for cars now show them in tune with nature instead of conquering it, but either way, the car is a dubious environmental hero. Continue reading

Getting Down and Dirty

Dirtgirlworld offers little kids a funky rockin’ organic alternative to talking machines and consumer-oriented TV. Continue reading

Travelogues with Conviction

There is more than one way to reach paradise. Continue reading