Why does the media fail to adequately report the direct links between eating meat and climate change?

TitleWhy does the media fail to adequately report the direct links between eating meat and climate change?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Almirón, N.
Affiliation (1st Author)Lecturer at Deparment of Communication, Pompeu Fabra University
Section or WGEnvironment, Science, and Risk Communication Working Group
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeENVT1a
Slot Code (Keyword)ENVT1a
Time of Session9:00-10:30
RoomHelix Blue Room
Session TitleThe Social Production of Environmental News
Submission ID4868

Context There is strong evidence that a meat and dairy-based diet is a very important contributor to climate change. However, the correlation between the production and consumption of livestock and anthropogenic climate change has received minimal media coverage. Furthermore, news media barely addresses, or does not address, dietary choices and the individual responsibility each one of us has with regard to this issue. Research objectives Elsewhere we reviewed the literature on climate change and the livestock sector and compared the results of the principal studies published to date on international media coverage of this correlation (climate change-livestock sector). Here we will elaborate on the reasons why climate change media coverage is downplaying the role of diet. Research questions The inevitable question is,, How is this? Could it be that knowing something so simple as the fact that reducing one’s meat consumption can have a direct impact on the environment is not of great interest? What is it that prevents media from researching this topic more earnestly and from covering it more often, more clearly and more responsibly? What is behind the media’s underreporting and/or miscoverage of an issue that is so important to the future of humanity? Theoretical framework To find the answers to these questions, we will review George Larkkof’s hypocognition theory. News media seem to be unable to contextualize data due to what Lakkof terms “hypocognition”, i.e. the lack of ideas that permit the construction of mental structures that allow one to understand the ultimate consequences of what is being said. The lack of these unconscious ideas must be what prevents the construction of mental structures that lead to clearly understanding the link between eating meat and global warming. Or, what is essentially the same thing, the link between an entrenched, individual daily habit and the serious environmental and social deterioration of the planet. What could explain this lack of ideas, this hypocognition, on the part of journalists? We argue there are three principle causes,, one economic, one psychological, and one philosophical or moral. To elaborate these arguments we will apply political economy, political ecology, ecofeminist and Eastern moral philosophy perspectives.

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