A new report sheds light on the alarming lack of coverage of animal agriculture’s role in climate change. The research, conducted by nonprofit news organization Sentient Media and research firm Faunalytics, analyzed the 100 most recent climate articles published by 10 national news outlets. The The New York Times And Wall Street Journal.
The report’s findings uncovered a shocking truth: Animal agriculture was mentioned in only 7 percent of the articles reviewed.
The report, titled “Animal Agriculture the Missing Part of Climate Change Media Coverage,” highlights the urgent need to increase media attention to the harmful environmental impact of animal agriculture. The analysis found that mining, construction and energy production received significant coverage in 68 percent of articles; Fossil fuels are indicated at 53 percent; But animal agriculture, which causes deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, received only 7 percent of the media attention.
Of the limited coverage given to animal agriculture, much has focused on the climate impacts of livestock, neglecting to address the critical issue of meat production, a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The study reveals a significant disparity between the actual emissions caused by animal agriculture and the media coverage it receives in the climate change debate.
“The livestock industry alone accounts for 60 percent of animal agriculture emissions, but only 30 percent of the articles promoting animal agriculture mention the livestock industry,” Connie Arevalo, research associate at Faunalytics, said in a statement.
“Our research shows that there is a huge disparity between the amount of emissions caused by animal agriculture and how much media coverage the industry receives when climate change is a hot topic.”
The relationship between diet and climate change
The report provides examples of missed opportunities to educate the public about the link between diet and climate pollution. It highlights stories of how the 2022 summer drought threatened livestock populations, prompting farmers to sell animals for slaughter because they could not keep them cool and hydrated. While beef consumption is a major driver of food sector emissions, such stories fail to inform readers about the impact of their food choices on climate emissions.
Interestingly, the Los Angeles Times About 14 percent of articles in the analyzed news outlets mentioned animal agriculture. Her efforts to discuss the impact of food on climate change in articles addressing animal agriculture have been recognized by Reuters and CNN.
Ana Bradley, executive director of Sentient Media, emphasized the media’s influence in shaping public choices and behaviors. Bradley hopes the report will encourage journalists and publications to fill gaps in coverage and equip readers with essential facts.
“The media has an incredible influence on our lives and the choices we make. “We’re missing a big part of the story by continuing to ignore the role of industrial animal agriculture,” Ana Bradley, executive director of Sentient Media, said in a statement. “With the release of this report, we hope to build a network of journalists and publications that want to fill this gap in coverage and equip readers with the facts.”
To address the lack of media attention, Centrant Media plans to publish a reporting toolkit and launch a Food and Farming Media Network hub, providing resources and fostering collaboration among journalists. Recognizing the challenges faced by weather journalists who struggle to secure resources for climate coverage, Sentient Media aims to bridge the gap between weather and food reporting.
As the urgency of the climate crisis deepens, it is critical for the media to address the significant environmental impact of animal agriculture. By increasing coverage and encouraging informed debate, journalists can play an important role in educating and empowering individuals to make sustainable choices that mitigate climate change.
Massive methane production by livestock
Another report published earlier this year found that the production of methane, a potent greenhouse gas from livestock, is largely ignored by policymakers and governments around the world. A review published in the journal A landThe researchers shed light on the alarming oversight of methane, with the study saying that current global methane emissions policies cover only 13 percent of these emissions.
In their study, the team scrutinized 281 policies across the sectors responsible for the highest methane production, including energy, waste and agriculture. The authors noted that current policies mainly target agriculture, a smaller source of methane emissions than enteric fermentation (cow flatulence), globally, despite being a major source of methane emissions in agriculture.
“The full adoption of the most effective mitigation strategies will not be sufficient to achieve the 2050 climate goals, as mitigation effects are offset by projected increases in methane emissions as a result of higher milk and meat demand in low- and middle-income countries,” the report said.