Center for Environmental Policy and Administration

American Generation of Environmental Warnings: Avian Influenza and Global Warming

Author:Allan Mazur
Date: May 2008
Publication:Human Ecology Review 16: 17-26.

Journalistic reporting of global warming and of avian influenza rose and fell nearly simultaneously in newspapers of the United States, Canada, Britain, Ireland, and Australia. Some international news peaks are reasonably interpreted as American-generated “media events” of ambiguous connection to worsening real-world threats.

Major international concern about avian flu, beginning in October 2005, resulted from a flurry of activity in Washington, D.C. to rapidly increase federal preparedness for a possible pandemic. This, in turn, was a face-saving action by the Bush administration after its dismal response to Hurricane Katrina, only weeks earlier.

Major international coverage of global warming began in 1988 when NASA scientist James Hansen testified before Congress that the summer’s drought was the result of climate change. Worldwide coverage dropped after 1992 while mean global temperature continued to rise. Coverage revived in 2006-07, largely but not exclusively due to the promotional efforts of Al Gore.


Allan Mazur
Center for Environmental Policy and Administration
The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 11/19/2010 10:32:54