The Media and the Environment Essay

1782 Words 8 Pages
The Media and the Environment

Ask any scientist about environmental problems, and you will get the same response: there is no question that the temperature of the earth is rising, that the number of places left in the world that are untouched by humans, if any still exist, is shrinking, that the human population is growing, that resources will eventually run out, that any number of other environmental problems are very real and need to be dealt with. Ask the average American, however, and you may get a different answer. Some people may say that loggers are bad people because they cut down trees, but if you ask a logger, you will discover that they only cut down as many trees as the public demands. As long as there is a market for
…show more content…
It seems almost inevitable that language filters the truth. Babies are born into a world full of bright colors and shapes and movements. As they grow older, they are taught names to assign to things. Dogs are no longer large and hairy, composed of multiple colors of fur and slobbering tongues, woofing and bounding everywhere. They continue to be such things, but when you see a dog, you think “dog”, not all the other things. And if you then tell someone else that you saw a dog, even if you remember exactly what the dog looked like, they may picture it differently. Such is language. Burke uses this feature of language as justification for likening it to a “terministic screen”: “even if any given terminology is a reflection of reality, by its very nature as a terminology it must be a selection of reality; and to this extent it must function also as a deflection of reality” (Sandman, 121, Burke as quoted by the author). A deflection: things are left out. To call a dog a dog is to group it with other dogs, to focus on shared characteristics and exclude those that distinguish it. Like any tool, of course, language is helpful: to be able to tell someone else that you saw a dog saves a good five or ten minutes that would otherwise have to be spent in describing characteristics of a nameless creature. “Dog” is a good approximation: energetic and slobbery, four-legged, furry: this is enough.

The convenience of
Open Document