Doing research I looked specifically at the recent climate report that was released by the US government to dissect the ways in which the current administration has defined their stance on climate change. Specifically dissecting the rhetoric used and how that may affect layman readers that are not inherently involved in climate science research.
I found that the language used is overly complicated and focuses mainly on the economic impacts of climate change. There was also little focus on anthropogenic climate change and how to establish policies that would directly act on anthropogenic climate change.
The most striking sentence that I find to be relevant to our topic was,
“Some aspects of our economy may see slight near term improvements in a modestly warmer world”
Rhetoric like these has been prevalent in climate science findings since the creation of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change). It acknowledges that climate change and global warming is occurring however, it could be beneficial for society citing regions with harsh weather would benefit from global warming because of the modestly warming weather.
An article by Moser 2010 researched the complicated nature of discussing climate change particularly focusing on the heavily scientific nature of these findings and lack of dramatisation in graphs and reserach produced.
I then went on to read an article by Boykoff 2007, a renowned climate scientist that focuses heavily on the effects of media representation of climate change on people’s perception of the severity of the issue.
Boykoff 2007 findings:
- the paper explored the way climate change is presented in the media and how that affects people outside of the climate science community to interpret climate change, in particular, anthropogenic climate change
- micro and macro factors – constraints faced by journalists the news and understandings of climate science (Carvalho)
- micro factors; audience expectation, editorial policy
- macro factors; decrease in advertising revenue
- issues with media-science-policy interface and anthropogenic climate change
- need for key concentrated events to garner increase in media attention – eg. 1997 Kyoto Protocol
- media depictions encouraged discussions surrounding climate change to evoke a response from the audience – debates on climate change between a climate scientist and a sceptic would gather more attention from viewers
- coverage of consensus taken through the framework of ‘contention’
- idea that “experts don’t have all the facts” – distrust in experts creating growing uncertainty in the reliability of existence of anthropogenic climate change
constraints with study:
- written in 2007 so the data is not as updated to recent meteorological events that are arguably caused by anthropogenic climate change
- focused on the US and the UK
- to what extent are industrialising economies concerned with climate change as much as they would be in rapid economic development?
- but should there be a duality in issues of climate change; would it be too constrictive to be focused on both sustainability and economic development?
- privileged access and power have amplified uncertainty and disempowered climate science – macro factors discussed previously; eg. if shareholders in a media outlet have personal intentions that do not coincide with climate science they are likely to exert their power to ensure their own interest
- mass media’s use of contestation in climate science (ie debates) have amplified the uncertainty through coverage of climate counterclaims regarding anthropogenic climate change (Dunwoody 1996)
Interestingly, I found a perspective piece on the Washington Post titled,
How the fossil fuel industry got the media to think climate change is debatable.
- Article by the Washington Post that outlines the ways in which the fossil fuel industry exploited the media in their favour.
- Here they highlight the ways in which PR offices in these fossil fuel companies in the end of the 20th century had manipulated the news to ensure that their rhetoric of “pro-fossil fuels” could be expanded
Fox Guest Claims Fossil Fuels Helps the Environment
- the rhetoric presented in the new arguments against renewable energy is increasingly racist in the US
- “they are no longer burning dung in their huts anymore… because you have infrastructure; with the help of carbon-based fuels in the developing world”
- the use of the narrative of “the other” as a way to mobilise people against the need for reducing carbon emissions
- “the other” an effective narrative to use because it compare you to people who you deem inferior to you and thus developing your inferiority complex
- arguably this has been used in other imperial-led rhetoric to further their cause
- for example, early documents in favour of the opium trade argued that because Indians ate little to no meat, opium was beneficial in helping them in labour productivity unlike the Europeans that had a high dairy and meat diet, and favourably “temperate” climate who are more productive without opium.
- here I would argue that one of the most jarring and influential traits of the US media is their ability to demonise “the other” in favour of their own agenda
- research media theory examples and cite this