Over the last two decades there has been a marked change in the way that the public perceives environmental issues and the concepts associated with sustainable development. Few would argue that this has moved into the mainstream of public consciousness. Coverage of sustainability related concepts within the media, as illustrated by a sample of 112 worldwide newspapers, shows a clear upward trajectory. Taking the example of climate change and sustainable development, this paper explores this increasing coverage, and arguably awareness, of sustainability concepts, and considers parallels with the concepts of punctuated equilibrium and issue-attention cycles. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.