Assignment On Role Of Mass Media In Climate Change Issues

Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world and the condition will become more worsen as a result of gradual changes. Floods, tropical cyclones, storm surges and droughts are like to occur more frequent and severe in the up coming years (Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, 2008). These changes will threaten the significant achievements Bangladesh has made over the last 20 years in increasing incomes and in reducing poverty and it will make more difficult to achieve the MDGs. Bangladesh needs preparation to adapt with climate changes and make safeguard for well-being of people in future.
Over the last 35 years, the Government of Bangladesh, with the support of development partners, has invested over $10 billion to make the country less vulnerable to natural disasters (Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, 2008). These investments include flood management schemes, coastal polders, cyclone and flood shelters, and the raising of roads and highways above flood level. In addition, the Government of Bangladesh has developed state-of-the-art warning systems for floods, cyclones and storm surges, and is expanding community-based disaster preparedness. Climate resilient varieties of rice and other crops have also been developed.

With the various initiatives taken by Bangladeshi government, there is a vital role of the mass media of Bangladesh to increase consciousness about climate change among people. It is well established that public consciousness on the issues like climate change can reduce its negative effect at a large. Mass-media coverage of climate change is not simply a random amalgam of newspaper articles and broadcasting channels segments; rather, it is a social relationship among scientists, policy actors and the people mediated by such news packages. The theoretical underpinning of this work is a recognition that environmental change does not exist in isolation from society. Information and knowledge about the physical world are part of a ‘social chamber', in which they are interpreted in the context of specific social values and cultural norms (Demeritt 2006 ). The mass media are a key part of this process, acting as gatekeepers of information on climate change (Carvalho and Burgess 2005 ). The media exist both in and between the public and private spheres of society, up-scaling normalizing values and simultaneously ascribing them to specific issues and news stories, which are then read and internalized at the private, individual scale (Carvalho and Burgess 2005 ). In short, the political, social, and cultural contexts of a society ‘affect the collective definition of social [and in this case environmental] problems' (Hilgartner and Bosk 1988 ).

Media is called the forth estate of a nation. Media can play a supreme role to build consciousness among the people about the climate change issues. We have to reveal out the answer that how much has the media covered climate change, and what is the driving changes in that coverage. It is also important to know that how does climate change stories come to be reported, who gets cited as legitimate sources in those stories. The present study is an attempt to dig out the answer of the aforementioned questions.

Since Bangladesh achieved Independence in 1971, GDP has more than tripled in real terms food production has increased three-fold (Government of Bangladesh, 1998), the population growth rate has declined from around 2.9% per annum in 1974 to 1.4% in 2006 and the country is now largely food secure (Government of Bangladesh, 1998). Over the last 20 years, growth has accelerated and the country is on track to become a middle income country by 2020. In four out of the last five years the economy has grown at over 6%. Between 1991 and 2005, the percentage of people living in poverty declined from 59% to 40% (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 1975 and 2007) and the country's Human Development Index improved from 0.347 in 1975 to 0.547 in 2005 (Government of Bangladesh, 2007). Child mortality has fallen substantially and gender parity in primary education has been achieved. Despite these successes, more than 50 million of our people still live in poverty (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, 2006). Many of these people live in remote or ecologically fragile parts of the country, such as river islands (chars) and cyclone-prone coastal belts, which are especially vulnerable to natural disasters. In the recently released draft, poverty reduction strategy paper (2009-2011), the Government of Bangladesh reaffirmed its commitment to the MDG targets, including halving poverty and hunger by the year 2015, through a strategy of pro-poor growth and climate resilient development.