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Communicating Climate Change

Annotated resources for teaching climate change from interdisciplinary perspectives. Contributions are welcomed by the sponsor, NSF EPSCoR, and initial contributors Dr. Y. Houy, UNLV Honors College, and Dr. P. Starkweather, UNLV School of Life Science.

Overview

While mass media coverage of climate science and global warming issues remain at the frontline of communicating risks and policy implications, traditional media’s influence on public discussion is waning: Understanding how climate science and risks, and mischaracterizations of them, are disseminated thus involves following and analyzing traditional mass media coverage as well as other sources of information in the public sphere, such as social media and entertainment media.

This section lists particularly accessible and well-organized news outlets that regularly report on media coverage of climate science and risks, as well as research on biases in media coverage. Media coverage biases are also a topic in the section “Climate Change Denial”; strategies for communicating science and risks are also discussed in “Framing Discussion.” Such strategies are also unfortunately used for misinformation on science and risks.  

It is important to point out that the media landscape is changing rapidly with increasing percentages of the population getting information critical for public discussion of climate science and risks not from traditional media sources, but also from entertainment sources, often disseminated through social media. (Also see the section “Learning through Entertainment” in this libguide.)

Not only is the landscape of how news reaches diverse audiences changing radically with the widespread use of the internet and social media, and the proliferation and diversification of mass media outlets; Additionally, communicating climate science and risks of global warming to diverse audiences is a complex task in the current political polarization and needs differentiated approaches for different audiences (see the section on “Communicating Climate Science” and “Framing Public Discussions”).

Media Coverage

The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media (website)

This continuously updated website affiliated with the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication posts journalistic writing about climate change: http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/

Science Journalism News Sources (websites)

Nature: Reporting on climate change research by science journal Nature:
http://www.nature.com/nclimate/index.html


Scientific American
: Reporting on climate change by popular science magazine Scientific American:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/topic.cfm?id=global-warming-and-climate-change

 

Environment 360: Reporting on environmental issues by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies: http://e360.yale.edu/ 

 

The Guardian: Reporting on climate change by British The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/climate-change

 

New York Times Dot.Earth: Science reporting on climate change in the New York Times, curated in the opinion pages as blog by science journalist Andrew Revkin: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/

 

The Huffington Post:Reporting on climate change by left-leaning The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/climate-change/

 

Treehugger.com
Reporting on climate change issues by popular sustainability website treehugger.com: http://www.treehugger.com/climate-change/

Inside Climate News
This non-profit, non-partisan news organization covers issues surrounding climate change, including policy and public opinion: http://insideclimatenews.org/

Mass Media Roles in Climate Change Mitigation (book chapter)

Swain, K. A. (2012). Mass Media Roles in Climate Change Mitigation. In W. Chen, J. Seiner, T. Suzuki, M. Lackner (Eds.), Handbook of Climate Change Mitigation (161-195). US: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4419-7991-9_6

Abstract: “News media portrayals of climate change have strongly influenced personal and global efforts to mitigate it through news production, individual media consumption, and personal engagement. This chapter explores the media framing of mitigation strategies, including the effects of media routines, factors that drive news coverage, the influences of claims-makers, scientists, and other information sources, the role of scientific literacy in interpreting climate change stories, and specific messages that mobilize action or paralysis. It also examines how journalists often explain complex climate science and legitimize sources, how audiences process competing messages about scientific uncertainty, how climate stories compete with other issues for public attention, how large-scale economic and political factors shape news production, and how the media can engage public audiences in climate change issues.”

"Got Science? Not at News Corporation" (PDF download)

This analysis of climate change reporting in 2012 of Rupert Mudoch’s News Corporation media outlets Fox News Channel and Wall Street Journal shows that coverage of climate change reporting was “overwhelmingly misleading”: “The analysis finds that the misleading citations include broad dismissals of human-caused climate change, rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge, and disparaging comments about individual scientists. Furthermore, much of this coverage denigrated climate science by either promoting distrust in scientists and scientific institutions or placing acceptance of climate change in an ideological, rather than fact-based, context.”

This analysis is summarized and available in full as a pdf download at
http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/global_warming_contrarians/news-corporation-climate-science-coverage.html?utm_source=SP&utm_medium=head&utm_campaign=news%2Bcorp

It is also available from link http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=primetime-fox-news-and-wsj-editoria-12-09-21

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