Peak & Prairie
October / November 1999
Population and the Media
by Fred Elbel, Population Committee Chair
October 12 marks the world population reaching 6 billion. The Chapter Population Committee, along with National Audubon Society Population and Habitat Campaign, Colorado Population Coalition, and the Denver University are hosting a Year 6 Billion event. Guest speaker, Bill Ryerson of the Population Media Center, will discuss population and the media.
The Communication Revolution
The Population Media Center works with health authorities and broadcasters in developing countries to create radio and television programs which encourage the values of small family size, family planning, and elevation of women’s status and participation in decisions regarding family size. Previous such efforts have been successful, particularly in Mexico. Similar programs are underway in other countries with record audiences and excellent results.
Through the communication revolution, television and radio have become major factors influencing cultural values worldwide. The Population Media Center has found them to provide entertainment value while also providing education. Television and radio programs have great potential to affect attitudes and behaviors, due to their emotional impact.
Silence on Population
The population is close to doubling and it is not clear the planet will be able to support it, especially at Western levels of consumption. Yet there is little mention, by the media, of population as a contributing factor to nearly all of our environmental problems.
Because of the lack of coverage, a “conspiracy of silence” has formed around the issue of population. Population growth is not considered newsworthy by the media. As a result, the public thinks population growth is not an important issue. Thus, neither the media or the public is inclined to talk about the subject, it has become a general taboo in our society.
Opening the Door
Fortunately, Year of 6 Billion will be recognized on October 12, 1999. Certainly, there will be media coverage on this significant event but it may not be complete and accurate. We will have an opportunity to respond to the media and make the connection between environmental degradation, sustainability, and population growth.
What you can do
Now is an excellent time to write a letter to the editor or call your favorite talk show. Make the connection between population and environmental problems. Seek out factual information for your letters and discussions (contact the author for comprehensive web sites and additional sources of information).
Please join us for the following presentations on Population and the Media (All events are free of charge):
At Fort Lewis College, in Durango:
For more information, please contact Fred Elbel in Denver, 303.220.7499, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Durango, contact Dick Grossman, 970.247.0668, email@example.com or John Byrd, 970.247.9182.
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