Critical Literature on Media and Climate Change

‘Four cultures: new synergies for engaging society on climate change’
Authors: Matthew C Nisbet, Mark A Hixon, Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael Nelson
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Ecological Society of America (8.6, 2010), pp. 329-221
https://www.jstor.org/stable/25741227

Points:

  • A shift in societal attitudes towards climate change requires a multidisciplinary approach and cannot be managed only by scientists and the scientific community
  • Current state of matters:
    • Scientists tend to bring more and more technical information in response to slow societal reaction to climate change news
    • Top-down approaches tend to ‘fuel polarisation and public disengagement’ (329)
  • Four cultures of environmental sciences, philosophy and religion, social sciences and the creative arts – all required to work in synergy to convince the public to care about climate change
  • Communication research demonstrates that much of the public have no ability or motivation to be informed about the details of climatology, choosing to rely on social identity, cultural traditions, personal experience, localised knowledge and/or popular media to comprehend climate issues
    • Thus the most effective method to rouse action is when it is framed in terms of community values or a subject they are familiar and concerned with
  • One of the proposals was that a digital news community be formed, with the suggestion that social media tools are used to match up members from different disciplines to discover complementary expertise, and to plan and coordinate a diversity of communication and public outreach initiatives

‘Climate Change as Meme’
Author: Samir Nazareth
Economic and Political Weekly (46.2, 2011), pp. 17-19, 21
https://www.jstor.org/stable/27918007

Points:

  • According to Richard Dawkins, memes are ‘cultural ideas which include symbols and practices that can be transmitted through various forms of communication’ (17)
  • Three main memes examined: renewable energy meme, energy efficient meme, and transformation of the pollution meme
  • Memes do not only propagate ideas but act as ways to comprehend complex phenomenon and encourage climate change action

‘Climate change oppression: media production as the practice of freedom’
Author: Grady Walker
Consilience (9, 2013), pp. 97-106
https://www.jstor.org/stable/26476128

Points:

  • Use of participatory media as an effective tool for climate change education
  • Media scholar Henry Jenkins: ‘We are moving away from a world in which some produce and many consume media toward one in which everyone has a more active stake in the culture that is produced’
  • Paper argues that adaptation is as necessary as mitigation to combat climate change, using participatory video distributed online on social media platforms as the main example

One thought on “Critical Literature on Media and Climate Change

  1. Hey,

    I found that your first reading, ‘Four Cultures’, rang true with what I had read about a growing sense of distrust between the public and expert/scientific knowledge.
    In particular it corroborated what I had read by Mike Hulme (2013) ‘Exploring Climate Change Through Science and Society’
    – specific example of ‘Climategate’ (2009): hacking of a server at Climatic Research Unit at UAE – story was first broken by climate change deniers > scientific consensus remained the same on climate change, but impacted public beliefs about legitimacy of scientific claims

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