A Media Matters analysis of print and television coverage of rising gasoline prices between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29 finds that news outlets often provided a shallow and shortsighted treatment of the issue. For instance, several outlets largely overlooked fuel economy standards—a key policy solution that mitigates U.S. vulnerability to price spikes while promoting increased U.S. drilling and the Keystone XL pipeline, which would likely move gas prices by only a few cents, if at all. In addition, cable news outlets primarily hosted political figures rather than energy experts or economists to comment on gas prices. Fox News, which covered gas prices far more frequently than any other outlet, regularly blamed President Obama for the recent price increase, a claim in line with Republican strategy but not with the facts.
The following chart shows the total coverage of gas prices between Jan. 1 and Feb. 29:
TV News Buries Key Policy Addressing Gas Price Woes
Reducing Consumption Is Key To Mitigating Our Vulnerability To Price Spikes. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the cost of crude oil, which is set on the world market, determines 76 percent of the price of gasoline. Energy experts agree that the way to reduce our vulnerability to gas price spikes is to decrease our dependence on oil, regardless of where the oil comes from. [Media Matters, 2/23/12]
- Michael Levi, Council on Foreign Relations: "Since oil is traded on a global market, the effects of volatility are reflected in the price of every barrel of oil regardless of its origin. This problem can be addressed only by making the U.S. economy more resilient to oil price swings, which includes—most significantly—lowering total U.S. oil consumption."
- Economist Severin Borenstein: "To fix the problem, we just need to use less oil."
- Energy analyst Chris Nelder: "Increasing efficiency is going to be a far more productive policy tool than increasing supply."
- Moody's Chris Lafakis: Higher average fuel economy, "be it through electric vehicles or improved efficiency on conventional vehicles," lowers "the percentage of consumers' incomes that they spend on gasoline."
News Outlets Largely Overlooked Fuel Efficiency Policies. Only 2 percent of broadcast coverage, 4 percent of cable coverage and 13 percent of print coverage of gas prices mentioned fuel economy standards, which have been significantly raised by the Obama administration. Two of the 9 mentions of fuel economy standards on Fox were GOP candidates calling for their repeal. CBS and The Los Angeles Times did not mention fuel efficiency standards in their gas price coverage at all. Out of 69 print items on rising gas prices, only three made the point that reducing oil consumption is the best long-term solution. These figures include views expressed by those interviewed or quoted.
Nearly All TV Outlets Promoted Drilling More Often Than Fuel Efficiency. With the exception of NBC, every television network mentioned expanded drilling as a solution more often than fuel economy standards. Fox News promoted the narrative that more domestic oil production will lower gas prices in 45 percent of its coverage. These figures include guests' comments if they were not challenged by the anchor. Energy experts, including those who are politically conservative, have repeatedly debunked the idea that increasing U.S. production is an effective solution to high prices. In fact, even the American Petroleum Institute won't say that expanded drilling would hold down prices. An analysis by the Energy Information Administration estimated that the difference between a scenario in which the Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern/Central Gulf of Mexico are open to offshore drilling and a scenario in which they remain off-limits is 3 cents per gallon of gasoline in 2030. Such a small effect would be dwarfed by the impact of rising oil consumption in Asia, geopolitical conflicts or OPEC supply adjustments. [Media Matters, 2/23/12, 6/23/11, 5/12/11]
Cable News Falsely Presented Keystone XL As A Gas Price Remedy. Economists say that TransCanada's Keystone XL oil pipeline would not noticeably lower gasoline prices. Even Ray Perryman, the economist hired by TransCanada said the effect would be only "around 3.5-4 cents per gallon" and not until the pipeline was "flowing reasonably close to capacity" in several years. He added that "a modest change of this nature will often be swamped by the day-to-day factors that impact market prices." Some analysts say the pipeline could actually raise prices in some parts of the country. But every cable news outlet promoted Keystone XL more often than fuel economy standards. In almost 40 percent of its coverage, Fox suggested that approving Keystone XL would help relieve rising gas prices. These figures include guests' comments if they were not challenged by the anchor. [Media Matters, 2/23/12]
Cable News Offers Political Figures Rather Than Energy Experts
Cable Networks Relied On Politicians To Explain Rising Gas Prices. In total, 63 percent of those interviewed or quoted on gas prices by cable outlets were political figures (including politicians, strategists, White House officials and campaign advisors), and only 13 percent were economists or oil industry experts. By contrast, 49 percent of those quoted by print outlets were economists or industry analysts and 35 percent were political figures. On the broadcast networks, 49 percent of those interviewed or quoted were consumers, 32 percent were political figures, and 17 percent were economists or industry analysts. The following chart breaks down the credentials of gas price commentators on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC:
Fox News Wrongly Blames Obama For High Gas Prices
Experts Say It's Simply Bad Economics To Blame Price Spike On The President. As countless experts and fact-checkers have noted, global factors largely determine the price of oil, not U.S. policy changes, let alone any actions President Obama has taken.
- Energy economist Severin Borenstein, a professor at U.C. Berkeley's Haas School of Business, explained: "Oil prices drive gasoline prices and current oil prices are high. But $125 per barrel oil today is no more the fault of President Obama than $147 oil was President Bush's fault in June 2008. There is very little the U.S. president can do to change oil prices over months or a few years. U.S. oil production was up 13 percent in 2011 over 2008, but still remains less than one-tenth of the world oil market." [U.S. News & World Report, 3/2/12]
- In a U.S. News & World Report column, Cato Institute fellows Peter Van Doren and Jerry Taylor wrote: "President Obama is no more responsible for production increases than other presidents were responsible for production declines. Unfortunately, presidents get blamed for world market changes that occur during their time in office ... but generally, they do not cause them." [U.S. News & World Report, 3/2/12]
- Tom Kloza, chief analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, told USA Today: "We'll continue to see plenty of blame attributed to both parties if we see prices go higher. But there is very little a president can do to impact gas or crude oil prices over the short term." [USA Today, 3/8/12]
Nevertheless, More Than Half Of Fox News Coverage Falsely Suggested Obama Is Responsible. Our results show that Fox News covered gas prices far more often than other news outlets—more than CNN and MSNBC combined. Fifty-five percent of Fox News coverage suggested that President Obama is to blame for rising gas prices. In total, Fox blamed Obama 144 times in two months—more than three times as much as all other news outlets combined. These figures include guest quotes if they were not challenged by the anchor or author.
Fox Narrative Mirrors GOP Campaign Strategy. The New York Times reported in February that Republicans see rising gas prices as an opportunity to attack President Obama on the economy:
In a closed-door meeting last week, Speaker John A. Boehner instructed fellow Republicans to embrace the gas-pump anger they find among their constituents when they return to their districts for the Presidents' Day recess.
"This debate is a debate we want to have," Mr. Boehner told his conference on Wednesday, according to a Republican aide who was present.
And talking points from the Republican National Committee that go out to conservative commentators every Friday often include rising gas prices among the "Top Line Messaging" for the week. A recent "Pundit Prep" document cited the national debt, unemployment and the price of gas as the three best ways to define the "Obama economy." [New York Times, 2/18/12]
This report analyzes print and television coverage of U.S. gasoline prices between January 1, 2012 and February 29, 2012. Our analysis includes the major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC and CBS), the major cable networks (CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC), and five major print outlets (New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal).
For print outlets and CNN transcripts, our results are based on a Nexis search for "(gas w/3 price!) or gasoline". For the Wall Street Journal, which is not available in Nexis, we searched Factiva for "(gas near3 price!) or gasoline". For the Fox News and MSNBC shows not available in Nexis, we relied on an internal television archive. Our analysis includes any article or segment devoted to gas prices, as well as any substantial mention (more than one paragraph of an article or news transcript.)
For more information, click here.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Tropical Storm Josephine Also No Threat to Land<p>Meanwhile, the season's record-earliest tenth named storm, Tropical Storm Josephine, was also struggling with high wind shear as it traced out a path over the open ocean.</p><p>At 5 a.m. EDT Saturday, Josephine was located about 310 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, moving west-northwest at 15 mph with top sustained winds at 45 mph. Josephine is expected to bring one to three inches of rain over portions of the northern Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico over the weekend. Josephine will encounter steadily rising wind shear through Monday, peaking at a very high 30 – 35 knots. This high shear is likely to destroy Josephine's circulation by Monday, before the storm can affect any other land areas.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2020/08/tropical-storm-kyle-forms-unlikely-to-affect-land/" target="_blank">Yale Climate Connections</a>. </em><em></em></p>
By Ute Eberle
In May 2017, shells started washing up along the Ligurian coast in Italy. They were small and purple and belonged to a snail called Janthina pallida that is rarely seen on land. But the snails kept coming — so many that entire stretches of the beach turned pastel.
The Ligurian coast has been swept by snails turning its color pastel.
A World Between Worlds<p>The neuston comprises a multitude of weird and wonderful creatures. </p><p>Many, like the Portuguese man-of-war, which paralyzes its prey with venomous tentacles up to 30 meters long, are colored an electric shade of blue, possibly to protect themselves against the sun's UV rays, or as camouflages against predators.</p><p>There are also by-the-wind sailors, flattish creatures that raise chitin shields from the water like sails; slugs known as sea dragons that cling to the water's surface from below with webbed appendages; barnacles that build bubble rafts as big as dinner plates; and the world's only marine insects, a relation of the pond skater.</p><p>They live "between the worlds" of the sea and sky, as Federico Betti, a marine biologist at the University of Genoa, puts it. From below, predators lurk. From above, the sun burns. Winds and waves toss them about. Depending on the weather, their environment may be warm or cool, salty or less so.</p>
Sea snails can make up the neuston.
Velella velella jellyfish living on the surface of the ocean.<p>But now, they face another — manmade — threat from nets designed to catch trash. A project called <a href="https://theoceancleanup.com/" target="_blank">The Ocean Cleanup</a>, run by Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, has raised millions of dollars in donations and sponsorship to deploy long barriers with nets that will drift across the ocean in open loops to sweep up floating garbage. </p>
Collecting With the Current<p>"Plastic could outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050. To us, that future is unacceptable," <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/green-entrepreneur-sets-sights-on-great-pacific-garbage-patch/a-38855785" target="_blank">The Ocean Cleanup</a> declares on its website.</p><p>But Rebecca Helm, a marine biologist at the University of North Carolina, and one of the few scientists to study this ecosystem, fears that The Ocean Cleanup's proposal to remove 90% of the plastic trash from the water could also virtually wipe out the neuston.</p><p>One focus of Helm's studies is where these organisms congregate. "There are places that are very, very concentrated and areas of little concentration, and we're trying to figure out why," says Helm.</p><p>One factor is that the neuston floats with ocean currents, and Helm worries that it might collect in the exact same spots as marine plastic pollution. "Our initial data show that regions with high concentrations of plastic are also regions with high concentrations of life."</p>
Waste collection in the Pacific Ocean heralded by The Ocean Cleanup.<p>The Ocean Cleanup says Helm's concerns are based on "misguided assumptions."</p><p>"It's true that neustonic organisms will be trapped in the barriers," says Gerhard Herndl, professor of Aquatic Biology at the University of Vienna and one of project's scientific advisors. "But these organisms have dangerous lives. They're adapted to high losses because they get washed ashore in storms and they have high reproductive rates. If they didn't, they'd already be extinct."</p><p>Helm says they just don't know how quickly these creatures reproduce, and in any case recovering from passing storm is very different from surviving The Ocean Clean Up's systems which could be in place for years.</p>
Communication Breakdown<p>The Ocean Cleanup invited Helm to a symposium on the topic in December, where both sides presented their points of views and didn't seem to find much common ground. Since then, direct communication between them has stopped, says Helm. "They're not interested in talking to me anymore."</p><p>Both sides agree that much is still unknown about the neuston. But one thing that has been established is that most of the oceans' fish spend part of their lifecycle in the neuston. "More than 90% of marine fish species produce floating eggs that persist on the surface until hatching," Betti says.</p><p>The Ocean Cleanup has undertaken one of the few studies into this ecosystem, collecting data on the neuston on the relative abundance of neuston and floating plastic debris in the eastern North Pacific Ocean during a 2019 expedition to the Pacific Garbage Patch, an area where plastic pollution has accumulated on a vast scale. But it is not yet sharing what it has found. The information was being prepared for publication in an as of yet unspecified journal, probably some time next year, an Ocean Cleanup spokesperson said. </p>
Inshore Solution?<p>Helm believes the best way to tackle the marine plastic problem would be to position the barriers closer to land — across river mouths and bays — to catch garbage before it reaches the sea.</p><p>"Stopping the flow of plastic into the ocean is the most cost-effective — and literally effective — way to ensure that it's not entering our environment," she says. </p><p>As for the plastic already floating in open waters, she does not believe it is worth sacrificing parts of neuston and wants to see more research first. </p><p>The Ocean Cleanup has made barriers across rivers a part of its mission. But it is also going ahead with its original vision of pulling trash from the open water. In late 2018, the project deployed a 600-meter, u-shaped prototype net into the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/environment-conservation-plastic-oceans/a-54436603" target="_blank">Great Pacific Garbage Patch</a>. </p><p>The system ran into difficulties, failing to retain plastic as hoped, and needing to be brought shore for repairs and a design upgrade, after which Ocean Cleanup says it gathered haul of plastic that it will recycle and resell to help fund future operations.</p><p>Over the next two years, the project hopes to deploy up to 60 such barriers to collect drifting flotsam. Helm isn't the only one concerned about these plans.</p><p><span></span>"We should think twice about every action we take in the sea," Betti says. "In nature, nothing is as easy as we think, and often, we've done a lot of damage while trying to do a good thing."</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/environment-conservation-plastic-oceans/a-54436603" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.<a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2646992655#/" target="_self"></a></em><em></em></p>
By Hope Dickens
Molly Craig's day begins with feeding hungry baby birds at 6 a.m. The birds need to be fed every 15 minutes until 7 at night. If she's not feeding them, other staff at the Fox Valley Wildlife Center in Elburn, Illinois take turns helping the hungry orphans.
By Douglas Broom
"Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people," said former U.S. president, Franklin Roosevelt.
So the FAO is using Twitter to remind the world of these five hidden benefits of forests.
A Michigan bald eagle proved that nature can still triumph over machines when it attacked and drowned a nearly $1,000 government drone.
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