The power laughter: environmental media and the fight for a better planet By Curt Gervich, PhD.

Structuralism: belief that things cannot be understood in isolation. They can only be understood as consequences of the structures they are part of.

The butterfly effect theorizes the connections among distant events and concludes that everything is connected to everything else.

This is the punchline of structuralism. Structuralism identifies several key structures that drive or initiate many of the events that occur throughout the world. Key structures are:

  • Environment
  • Family and community
  • Politics and government
  • Science
  • Faith, spirituality, religion
  • Factors of social and cultural diversity such as gender, race, ethnicity
  • Media

This blog focuses on the role of media in influencing our perspectives on environmental changes, challenges and problem solving.

News Media and Journalism

One major tension in the media is the importance of accuracy-- correctly reporting facts-- and balance-- giving equal time and credibility to all sides of a story.

This short piece by John Oliver presents the difference between balance and accuracy in climate change reporting.

The Society of Professional Journalism's Code of Ethics outlines the principles of reporting journalists are to follow.

ONAethics presents the differences and importance of accuracy, balance and fairness in reporting.

"...must a journalist writing about weather trends make a nod to the “debate” about global warming? What if the story is about a debate on government actions to combat global warming? Must a reporter who quotes a government official who says she doesn’t believe in global warming “balance” that comment by saying there is a scientific consensus that global warming is a true phenomenon? Does the journalist need to provide a source for that comment, even though it is widely accepted?"

Check out the two articles below from the Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune. They are very similar news papers and cities, and about nearly identical topics. Can you pick out subtle differences in reporting style that might evidence media bias?

How the media communicates science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The images provide a look inside the IPCC scientific reporting structure.

The IPCC review process resembles the process for peer reviewed literature.

Basic outline of peer review process for scholarly, scientific journals.

Check out this series by Nature, one of the most widely respected scientific journals in the world, on how the media covers IPCC scientific reports. Select one of the following article and read it.

Two divergent tracts of science reporting are demonstrated in the media.

Eco-tragedies paint dire pictures of doom and gloom.

Stories of eco-abundance suggest we are on the brink of solving our environmental crises.

Rachel Carson and David Wallace-Wells both represent eco-tragedy media. The touchstones of eco-tragedies are:

  • People are a problem.
  • Technology is a problem.
  • I=PAT is correct.
  • The only solutions to environmental challenges are to reign in, or change, people's values regarding growth, consumption and quality of life.


Peter Diamandis and Peter Karieva exemplify the eco-abundance narrative. Touchstones of this narrative are:

  • People are problem solvers. More people, thinking creatively, can solve more problems.
  • Technology can solve environmental problems, and advancing technology can allow us to live a high quality of life and protect the environment.
  • I=PAT is incorrect.

Visual Art, Painting, Sculpture, Music and Dance all have a Role to Play

The Hudson River School of painting focused on highlighting the sublime and spiritual in nature. This movement was born in the ADKs in the 1800s.

Artists and Climate Change supports arts organizations and artists tackling environmental issues. Check out the range of artists and organizations working in this space. It's truly inspirational.

Music and Dance TACKLES environmental challenges

Comedy and Laughter are powerful forces for environmental change

Advertising plays a huge role in our habits of consumption and waste.

But we can vote with our wallets!

Created By
Curt Gervich


Created with images by Thomas Charters - "Power Struggles" • Birmingham Museums Trust - "Near Glarus, Switzerland, 1781 by John Warwick Smith" • Emma Frances Logan - "When the colors catch your eye."