Environmental or Health: Which is More Crucial?

By Annelise Wilimitis

Being in class learning about communication in relation to health has made me wonder why people don’t care when certain issues are staring them in the face and then they let other issues take the forefront of their concerns.  The media can largely influence what we are concerned about in relation to our health, and can say situations are more or less of an issue than is true.  For instance, lately Zika virus has been in a lot of the news.  People are so concerned about it even though it poses less of an risk directly than issues relating to climate change.  People in South Carolina were so concerned about killing mosquitoes that carried Zika virus by aerial spraying of pesticides that it was not considered that the pesticide might kill bees.  It ended up that millions of bees died from this pesticide, and since bees are largely endangered, this is a big issue (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/02/us/south-carolina-pesticide-kills-bees.html).  Yet, people don’t understand it or don’t know about it because it is not in more than one article.  The people in charge of spraying the pesticides should have done more research on this before hastily taking action because of the public calling for something to be done.  Honeybees are largely responsible for pollination of fruits and vegetables, and they keep many flowers alive as well.  For bees to go completely extinct would devastate many crop yields and our flower and food availability.
These issues, as pressing as they are, are cast aside.  Another situation of this is the coverage of flooding in the Cincinnati area last week.  Though this was a big issue and was even called a 100 year flood (meaning there is less than a 1% chance every year that rainfalls of these measures will happen), no one is really as concerned as they should be about this (http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2016/08/29/torrential-downpour-100-year-storm/89539302/).  People are more worried about Ebola and Zika and other stories and this is now considered “old news”.  More and more is happening that is proof of climate change, but it is not being labeled as such.  I am curious to know whether people really do not believe climate change is happening, or if people think it will not happen in their lifetime and therefore are not concerned?  Why do health stories take so much precedence over environmental issues, when the latter also affects health in different ways?

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10 thoughts on “Environmental or Health: Which is More Crucial?

  1. This article is great because it gives an example outside of what we learned from class when it comes to the people missing the overall greater picture. Yes, the Zika Virus is an issue, but so is killing a massive amount of much needed bees. Yet we still follow the big health scare that the media tends to push in front of us. Same with the flood. We focused on so much of the other health issues that we thought had greater importance, that we over looked the flood. This is a very interesting topic to discuss.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really benefitted from your post because of the scientific and factual comparisons you made. Being that this is a communications class, this is very well fitting because you communicated the ideas in a way that led me to further understand that the general population of America is choosing to care more about less important health issues than very important and immediate ones. This is very thought provoking and leads me to want to further analyze any updates or stories that may be part of our community’s “health news”.
    -Erica Bock

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  3. Very thoughtful post. And yes researchers have been proving global warming is an actual issue for over a century now and people are still ignorant to the facts. Animal agricultural is actually the cause of 51% of all climate change, in comparison fossil fuels is around 17% and car emissions is around 14%, yet there is no media coverage over animal agriculture or how serious global warming is. Also to answer your question(s) it’s because cooperations run the world and they would not profit if they came out with something that proved their activities do more bad than good.

    Jaiden Deal

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you that cooperations would not want to show that they are in the wrong, but could you imagine the first company that would take initiative to lead the way in the right direction? Yes, there are several “green companies” and even some gasoline companies are committed to funding renewable energy resources, but are not making the change themselves. I wonder what would happen if Shell gasoline, for instance, starting making renewable energy commercials or advertisements saying that they were switching from petroleum to wind, nuclear, or solar energy as a company. Then maybe Shell, could become the main renewable energy company and make a significant profit that way. Just a thought!

      Annelise Wilimitis

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  4. Your article caught my eye because of your mention on honey bees, a topic near and dear to my heart that I’ve put a lot of time and research into for years now. I read the article on the bee massacre article when it came out and it made me deeply sad, and you bring up the exact points I thought at the time and expand of them wonderfully. The media and people’s worries get pushed to this extreme place of fear where they’ll do anything to irradiate the immediate problem at hand, I.E. Zika in this case, without factoring in or taking time to see the side effects. This situation reminds me a lot of the agent orange issues when pesticides where liberally spread resulting in many human issues because of a lack of research. I hope at the very least that tragedies like all the bees perishing will inspire research before action and more caring, although I am sad to say I assume human kind will always be reactionary and regret it later.

    ~Asha Brogan

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  5. I completely agree with your stance on environment or health. The media needs to realize that some of the environmental aspects may be an effect on our health but only look to what is going on that will catch more ratings. The Louisiana floods became old news, as did the bees going extinct. The lack of research for our environment is what is going to hurt us in the long run (i.e. animals going extinct and climate change).

    – Tarah Klenk

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  6. In your blog, you ask the question “Why do health stories take so much precedence over environmental issues, when the latter also affects health in different ways?” I think the answer to this is that the media wants to report on the newest story that captivates the audience, which then gives them better reviews and more money. Climate change has been a topic for many years and has already been reported on. If viewers turn the news on every night and see “Climate Change” as a headline every night, they are going turn to a new news channel to hear about something new, like the Zika virus or the bees being killed. This is not a good thing though. People need to know that Climate Change was happening before, and is still happening now. Something needs to be done about it, but we are blinded by small and somewhat meaningless news stories.

    -David Lehn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, your idea is true. The media is just in it for the money for the most part, and it hardly seems that anyone is out taking stories for everyone’s well-being anymore. You would think that, personally, everyone would be concerned if something this big was popping up in the news. Again, maybe that is because of denial or maybe because people really don’t know or don’t believe it is true.

      Annelise Wilimitis

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  7. I think you are right in feeling that people do not care about climate change nearly as much as they do with health issues. This is true for many reasons. I believe a large part of the problem is the way the media represents different issues. The media over emphasizes and over focuses on health related issues. People respond to things like ebola and the Zika virus much more quickly because it directly or could directly effect them. We do not see the news showing footage of melting glaciers, or over emphasizing the extreme weather changes we have been facing, because even at the rate that climate change has been occurring, it will not severely impact people living now. By facilitating and supporting what the media does cover, the public in turn, encourages them to continue covering what they cover. We as the viewers must overwhelmingly demand change, or we will not experience it.

    Halle Van De Hey

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your point about Zika and Ebola directly affecting the people makes sense, but why don’t people see that climate is also affecting them? We also already know that climate change is affecting people, just largely with drought and severe storms and earthquakes. People who are not in that area do not think about the effects and just see it as another tragedy in the news. It seems that the public needs to get their priorities straight, but how is that done when they have no way of knowing the facts?

      Annelise Wilimitis

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