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The environment has consistently been a hot topic, but at the end of 2015, it dominated headlines for weeks due to unusually warm temperatures in some places and extremely cold weather conditions in other parts of the United States. From tornadoes to blizzards and record highs to unseasonable lows, December had people talking about the climate. Here is an infographic with some of the highlights.
While the climate change debate goes on, everyone agrees that the weather phenomenon El Nino is contributing to the wacky weather. What is El Nino, you ask? According to Scientific American articles found in Newsdesk, it’s part of a naturally occurring, irregular cycle that takes place every two to seven years in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. “El Niño is characterized by a large area of warmer-than-average ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific. The other half of the cycle is La Niña, when the surface waters are cooler than normal. There's also a neutral phase, when the temperatures are about average.”
Coincidence or not, El Nino was front and center at the same time global leaders came together in Paris for COP 21, the 21st U.N. summit focused on forging a new global agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Twitter® was quick to get in on the action by unveiling three new, environmentally-focused emojis to coincide with the conference. The social media website unveiled the icons, which are activated by hashtags, to mark the two-week-long Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The emojis—an Eiffel Tower overlaid on a green leaf, a green Eiffel Tower and a heart-shaped Earth icon—appeared when users tweeted using the hashtags #COP21, #GoCOP21, #ActionDay and #ClimateChange.
With all this talk about climate change and the environment, how can we know who prioritizes this as a critical issue? Based on environmental media mentions tracked by Newsdesk across 100 days, Millennials are, by far, the most environmentally-connected generation, owning more than 71 percent of the conversation, or nearly 14,000 articles. That’s a lot of talking!
I am not a climate change skeptic but I wonder if this was written prematurely. The East coast just broke all kinds of snowfall records and as regards December temperatures being above normal, well that is due to periodic El Nino effect. After all, one month or even one season does not reflect a trend. Now if we had snowfall in July as Andy Williams is skating through the aisles and singing "Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year..." I might reconsider my take on this.
This demonstrates exactly why on-going media monitoring is important. It brings possible issues to the surface that companies can then watch to determine if it is a fad that will quickly fade or an emerging trend that they want to get ahead of. Plus, the trend identified is the attention to the problem, not just the weather events themselves - just like NASA monitors the size of the hole in the ozone. The hole has both grown and shrunk from year to year, but it’s still a hole the size of North America - which bears watching.