Is the media too alarmist?

On the 28th of September, Channel 9 Perth reported that there was a major concern because labourers had a heart health eight years beyond their true age. They also pointed out that it was 2.9 years beyond their age for the average Australian. When I heard this, I thought, “Wait a minute!” Aren’t we living longer and healthier? It seemed to me that this was another case of media alarmism.

Many newspaper editors know, that if you print too much good news, people stop buying your paper. Conversely, if you publish doom, gloom and controversial topics, sales shoot up. There are two areas where this alarmism is getting out of control, and we seem to have lost our perspective.

Health alarmism

The television report about Australians’ heart health implied that Australians are in fact unhealthy. Let’s look at some facts: Australia ranks second in life expectancy at 83 years (Japan leads with 84). For men, it is 81 while it’s 85 for women. With respect to cardiovascular disease, the age-standardised death rate has decreased from 1,020 deaths per 100,000 in 1968 to 68 per 100,000 in 2012.

Both of these statistics demonstrate a tremendous change in the past 50 years. There are many factors for increasing longevity and reduction in heart disease during our lifetime:

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  • Advances in medical technology means that people have a much higher survival rate with cardiovascular as well as other diseases.
  • People today are more cognisant of the food that they eat. With the explosion of the internet, we have much greater choices in deciding how to take care of our nutritional health.
  • Today, so many people – even in their senior years – are exercising. The message is getting through that to be healthy; exercise is a vital component. It doesn’t matter whether it’s swimming, cycling, Pilates, water aerobics or working out with a personal trainer, just doing something is critical.


Global warming/climate change

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Is there a day that this doesn’t come up in the media? Every facet of our existence seems related to the theme of global warming. It is, in fact, a form of hysteria that is gripping people across the planet. It is getting to the point where the indoctrination starts at a very early stage. Four and five-year-olds are becoming fearful because of the mantra of climate change.

Before I get accused of being one of those “deniers”, let’s see if we can get some balance into the argument:

  • There are a significant number of scientists who don’t see climate change as a runaway problem of magnitude proportions. Unfortunately, they are often vilified by the climate change establishment.
  • The temperature has increased the past 150 years though it has leveled off since 1999. There have been three periods during the past 5,000 years when global temperatures have been higher: the Minoan Age, the era of the Roman Empire and the Medieval Warming around 1,000 A.D.
  • Carbon dioxide – contrary to what some believe – is not a poison. It is vital for plant photosynthesis that is the source of oxygen upon which we are so dependent.
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  • We do need to maintain as clean an environment as possible. I see the issue more as a pollution issue than a climate issue.

If we didn’t watch the media or stopped reading newspapers, we wouldn’t hear much about many of these issues. The climate had changed before man came on the scene. It always has and always will, regardless of what we do. Not hearing about climate change would relieve the stress that some people are experiencing about the issue.

Our health, particularly in the Western world, will continue to improve, and life expectancy will continue to rise. Estimates are that two-thirds of babies born today will live to 100 or more. These changes are fairly dramatic.

Maybe we need to be more concerned about over-population of the planet with the upward spiral of life expectancy. Of course, if the media gets wind of it, they will probably create a new form of alarmism.

Tell us your thoughts below.

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