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Environmental Conflict and the Media


Libby Lester and Brett Hutchins

Has the hype associated with the «revolutionary» potential of the World Wide Web and digital media for environmental activism been muted by the past two decades of lived experience? What are the empirical realities of the prevailing media landscape?
Using a range of related disciplinary perspectives, the contributors to this book analyze and explain the complicated relationship between environmental conflict and the media. They shine light on why media are central to historical and contemporary conceptions of power and politics in the context of local, national and global issues and outline the emerging mixture of innovation and reliance on established strategies in environmental campaigns.
With cases drawn from different sections of the globe – Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe, Latin America, China, Japan, the Pacific Islands, Africa – the book demonstrates how conflicts emanate from and flow across multiple sites, regions and media platforms and examines the role of the media in helping to structure collective discussion, debate and decision-making.
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9 Celebrity, Environmentalism and Conservation: Dan Brockington


The presence of celebrity in environmental affairs provokes ridicule, wonder, appreciation, laughter and disgust, amid other emotions. Celebrity intervention in environmental causes has seen a famous actor get a chest wax to protest against tropical deforestation; it has seen a wealthy, jet-setting actress declare her inability to cease intercontinental travel but vow instead to take more showers and fewer baths; it has seen the establishment of founding populations of rare animals in exotic and quite inappropriate locations; and it has seen months if not years of dedicated and low-profile sacrifice and service to contentious causes. It is because it is so prominent, so colorful and prompts such diverse reactions that the work of celebrity in environmentalism and conservation can prove so interesting.

Celebrity matters as a means of understanding the power and influence of the media in environmental affairs for several reasons. First, the sheer quantity and proportion of celebrity-focused, -led or -mediated articles, films and news reports have increased steadily over recent decades. It is important to demonstrate this. The prevalence of celebrity in environmental affairs is usually assumed, and awareness of it is presumed by observers. It is rarely shown.1 Nonetheless, it is possible with relatively simple newspaper searches to demonstrate that articles mentioning both celebrity and environmental matters have increased considerably in both absolute and relative terms. Figure 1 shows this increase in the Guardian newspaper (UK) between 1985 ← 139 | 140 → and 2005, with articles rising from a mere 5 or so a year to...

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