The green media frenzy
Mainstream media thrives on catastrophe, shock and misery, so perhaps the notable increase in coverage of green issues and green business issues shouldn't be surprising. The United States has often been seen as behind the rest of the industrialised world in its awareness of environmental issues. In 2007, it became apparent that the trend of featuring environmental issues in the mass media via news, television shows and popular culture was spiralling as never before.
The Global Warming Survival Guide stared out from the cover of Time magazine's April 9 issue, and included '51 Things You Can Do', which stated 'You-along with scientists, businesses and governments-can create paths to cut carbon emissions'.43 Time's June 18 issue urged readers to 'Take Your Planet to Work (Going Green at the Office)', and noted that 'One office worker can use a quarter ton of materials in a year'.44
As mentioned above, Vanity Fair unveiled its 'Green Issue' in May, which featured articles on lawsuits against Chevron for destructive oil drilling in the Ecuadoran Amazon, 'The Rise of Big Water', as an industry, a sleek new electric car, and also skewered energy industry executives in the article 'Texas Chainsaw Management'. (Yes, and that one on private equity.)45
The Discovery Channel launched the first 24-hour television network dedicated to green lifestyle programming, Planet Green, in April. The initiative includes a $50 million investment in new original content and a multi-platform offering with interactive tools and comprehensive 'how to' resources. Planet Green will begin airing in 2008 and is expected to debut in over 50 million US homes.46 Meanwhile, the cable network's Health Channel covered 'Green Yard' programming, and its Travel Channel featured an 'Eco Lodges' episode.
The Sundance Channel launched a weekly bloc of environmental programming in April called The Green. The Green kicked off each bloc with an original documentary series that took a look at 'the leading edge of a new green world'. The first few segments focused on alternative fuel, green building and eco-fashion.47 Both the Discovery Channel and Sundance Channel created advisory committees with a selection of notable names and organisations to support programme development, partnership outreach and corporate innovation activities.
A key actor in the climate change debate took notice of the increased media attention and responded by buying 'Let's Talk about Climate Change' full-page ads in the major publications such as the Washington Post. That key actor was none other than Exxon. When the biggest climate change denier nonchalantly changes tack to engage the issue on its own terms rather than insisting it doesn't exist, it has conceded the fight. The vice president for public affairs of the world's largest publicly traded oil company, Kenneth P. Cohen, said that the company never denied the existence of climate change.48 No, they have only heavily funded those that do.
The main classic rock 'n' roll radio station in the Washington DC area, 94.7 FM, has banked that green is good, to paraphrase Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, with a new name-The Globe-and mission: 'We want to be a part of the solution.' Its website lists its top 12 priorities, which include 'The Globe' at number one, and 'Think Globally, Act Locally' at number three, with regular on-air tips on how to go green with energy, electronics, landscaping, cars and shopping, and ads featuring global positioning gadgets with the pitch that they can find the nearest place to recycle garbage.49 Green Weddings graced the cover of the Washington Post 'Home' section on June 21, and declared that the '$73 billion wedding industry is paying more attention to the environmental implications of their choices'.50
Even Wine Spectator magazine's June 30 issue declared 'Wine Goes Green'. Articles examined how producers make wine while reducing pollution and conserving energy with solar panels to subterranean cellars, and new organic wine-making methods.51