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CROWDING OUT SCIENCE: "Perfect Storm" of Foreign Policy Crises Likely to Push Climate Change, Stem Cell Research, and Other Science/Enviro Topics Down Media-Policy-Public Agenda

July 13, 2006, 6:48 AM
The media, policy, and public agenda can be said to have a "limited carrying capacity." Since neither news organizations,members of Congress, nor the public can devote equal amounts of resources and attention to all issues, the rise in attention to one issue on the news agenda, is likely to bump down in prominence another issue across other agendas.

AND so, over the past few weeks, as Madeline Albright dubs it , we have reached a "perfect storm" of foreign policy crises. Consider the many flash points across the globe, events that, as TIME magazine frames it this week, have led the Bush administration to back down from its preference for "cowboy diplomacy":

Civil war in Iraq
War between Israel and Hezbollah
N. Korea's missile tests
Iran's nuclear program
Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan
Rise of Islamist militia in Somalia
Eroding relations with Russia
Disputed election in Mexico, that revolves on class and free trade tensions

All of this means that the growing attention to climate change (2006 is on track for a historic level of media attention), and the rising attention to stem cell research (with a Senate vote scheduled for next week,) are both likely to be muted by the agenda dominance of these foreign policy issues. We tend to think of science issues in isolation, but they rely heavily on the level of attention at different times to issues across other sectors of society.


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