Communication, Controversies and Uncertainty Facing the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change José Luis Piñuel Raigada / Gemma Teso Alonso / James Painter / Anabela Carvalho / Mercedes Pardo Buendía / Asunción Lera St. Clair Edited by José-Luis Piñuel-Raigada Juan-Carlos Águila-Coghlan Gemma Teso-Alonso Miguel Vicente-Marino Juan-Antonio Gaitán-Moya
Cuadernos Artesanos de Latina / 30
Cuadernos Artesanos de Latina - Comité Científico Presidencia: José Luis Piñuel Raigada (UCM) Secretaría: Concha Mateos (URJC) - Bernardo Díaz Nosty (Universidad de Málaga, UMA) - Carlos Elías (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, UC3M) - Javier Marzal (Universidad Jaume I, UJI) - Juan José Igartua (Universidad de Salamanca, USAL) - Julio Montero (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, UCM) - Maria Luisa Humanes (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, URJC) - Miguel Vicente (Universidad de Valladolid, UVA) - Miquel Rodrigo Alsina (Universidad Pompeu Fabra, UPF) - Núria Almiron (Universidad Pompeu Fabra, UPF) - Ramón Reig (Universidad de Sevilla, US) - Ramón Zallo (Universidad del País Vasco, UPV-EHU) - Victoria Tur (Universidad de Alicante, UA)
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Communication, Controversies and Uncertainty Facing the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change José Luis Piñuel Raigada / Gemma Teso Alonso / James Painter / Anabela Carvalho / Mercedes Pardo Buendía / Asunción Lera St. Clair
Edited by José-Luis Piñuel-Raigada Juan-Carlos Águila-Coghlan Gemma Teso-Alonso Miguel Vicente-Marino Juan-Antonio Gaitán-Moya
Cuadernos Artesanos de Latina / 30
30º - Communication, Controversies and Uncertainty Facing
the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change José Luis Piñuel Raigada et al.
Precio social: 6,65 € / Precio librería: 9.50 € Editores: Concha Mateos Martín y Alberto Ardèvol Abreu Diseño: Juan Manuel Álvarez Ilustración de portada: Fragmento del cuadro “Mujer con jarrón”, de Murrieta Minauro, 2004 (México) Imprime y distribuye: F. Drago. Andocopias S. L. c/ La Hornera, 41. La Laguna. Tenerife. Teléfono: 922 250 554 | firstname.lastname@example.org Edita: Sociedad Latina de Comunicación Social – edición no venal - La Laguna (Tenerife), 2012 – Creative Commons (http://www.revistalatinacs.org/12SLCS/portada2012.html) (http://www.revistalatinacs.org/067/cuadernos/artesanos.html#30) Protocolo de envío de manuscritos con destino a C.A.L.: http://www.revistalatinacs.org/067/cuadernos/protocolo.html ISBN – 13: 978-84-15698-01-2 ISBN – 10: 84-15698-01-1 D.L.: TF-823-2012
Prologue: José-Luis Piñuel-Raigada ………………………. 143
1. Reference topics addressed by Spanish news television programmes in their coverage of the climate change summits in Cancun and Durban José-Luis Piñuel-Raigada Gemma Teso-Alonso ………… 147 2 . Communicating Uncertainties: climate skeptics in the international media James Painter ……………………………………………….. 187 3. Climate change, the media and the knowledge-inaction paradox Anabela Carvalho ……………………………………… …. 219 4. Beyond Climate: Climate Change as Socio-Natural Risk Mercedes Pardo-Buendía ………………………………….. 247 5. Climatechange, uncertainty and human security Asuncion Lera-St.Clair …………………………………..… 259
HIS BILINGUAL BOOK, in Spanish and English, presents a re-written version of the papers delivered in the panel entitled “Communication, Controversies and Uncertainty Facing the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” of the thematic section Communication Research Theories and Methods of the 3rd International Congress of the Spanish Association of Communication Researchers (AE-IC, according to its initials in Spanish), entitled Communication and Risk, which was held in Tarragona from 18 to 20 January, 2012. The organization and conduction of the panel (invitations, funding and video recording by students from Tarragona‟s Institut Pere Martell) were possible thanks to the help provided by the MDCS research group (Mediación Dialectica de la Comunicación Social - Dialectical Mediation of Social Communication) of the Complutense University of Madrid. The MDCS group is responsible for the R&D project entitled “The media’s hegemonic discourse on climate change (Risk, Uncertainty and Conflict) and an experimental test with alternative discourses among young people” (reference number CSO2010-16936COMU).The edition of this collection was possible thanks to the collaboration between the MDSC research group and the Laboratory of Information Technologies and 143
Social Communication Analyses(Latina, according to its initials in Spanish) of the University of La Laguna. From the start, Latinaexpressed its desire to provide the scientific community with a bilingual edition of the texts presented in the aforementioned panel, through its book-like collections of academic papers entitled Cuadernos Artesanos de Latina. The purpose of the panel “Communication, Controversies and Uncertainty Facing the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” was the presentation, analysis and discussion of the technical, social, and cultural aspects of climate change that have received media attention and become part of the current public agenda. Theorganization of this panel was motivated by the UN‟s annual world summits on climate change and the reports of the UN‟s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which seeks to achieve scientific consensus on this subject matter and to reduce the disputes that are often encouraged by the media when reporting socio-economic and environmental emergencies related to global warming caused by greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions, which result from the uncontrolled energy consumption of our current production system. The aforementioned panel brought together renowned scientists in the field of climate change and encouraged a high-level debate about the implications and consequences of this phenomenon, but above all about the discoursesused by the media when reporting on the political, economic and social actions and projects that are undertaken to face this problem. This volume presents the papers delivered in the panel,in a reviewed and rewritten version made by their authors. The volume also includes an introduction by José-Luis Piñuel and Gemma Teso, who provide a summary of the empirical data obtained from the thematic analysis of the coverage of the Cancun and Durban summits by the Spanish television news programmes, and a general reflection on this process, which is the object of analysis of the authors participating in the panel. The author of the first text is JAMES PAINTER, head of the BBC for Latin America since 1992 and head of the BBC headquarters in Miami. He is currently part of the Reuters Institute for the Study of 144
Journalism of the University of Oxford. His area of research is media communications on climate change and the impact of global warming in the development of countries. He is the author of several books on climate change. His last two books are Summoned by Science (2010), which analyses in depth the media coverage of the Copenhagen climate change summit, and Poles Apart - The international reporting of climate scepticism, published in November 2011. The second text was written by ANABELA CARVALHO (PhD by University College London). She is a professor at the Department of Communication Sciences of the University of Minho, Portugal, and a member of the Communication and Society Research Center. Her research focuses on environmental issues and the dissemination of science with a particular emphasis on climate change. She is the editor of Comunicación sobre el Cambio Climático: discursos, mediaciones y percepciones(Communication on climate change: discourses, mediations and perceptions),published in 2009.Sheis the former President and currentVice President of the “Communication, science and environment” sectionof the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA). She is also the associate editor of Comunicación Ambiental: un diario de la Naturaleza y la Cultura (Environmental Communication: a journal of Nature and Culture) (2011). Sociologist MERCEDES PARDO BUENDÍA is the author of the third text. She coordinates the research programme for the creation of the Climate Change Research Institute, dependent of the Spanish Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs. She is also the President of the Spanish Research Committee on Global Change (CEICAG, according to its initials in Spanish). She currently teaches Sociology of climate change at the Carlos III University of Madrid. The author of the fourth and last text is ASUNCIÓN LERA ST. CLAIR, a philosopher and sociologist. She is research director atthe Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO); associate researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI); and sociology professor at the University of Bergen, Norway (on leave). She was the scientific director of the Comparative Research ProgrammeonPoverty (CROP), which is part of the International Social Sciences Council (ISSC). She is also the President 145
of the International Development Ethics Association (IDEA), as well as a member of other international and national organizations and editorial boards. Moreover, she has been one of the lead authors of the IPCC‟s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), Working Group II:Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Her work is inter- and multidisciplinary, focused on ethical issues and the problems of knowledge creation in relation to poverty, climate change and development. Recently, she has been published bysuch journals asGlobal Governance, Global Social Policy, Globalizations, and Global Ethics. Her most recent publications include: Global Poverty, Ethics, and Human Rights: The Role of Multilateral Institutions (in co-authorship with Desmond McNeill);Development Ethics: A Reader(co-edited by Des Gasper), London: Ashgate (2010);and Climate Change, Ethics and Human Security(co-edited by Karen O'Brien and Berit Kristoffersen), Cambridge: University Press (2010), which contains the texts included in thiscollection: “Climate Change and Poverty: The Responsibility to Protect”; “The Framing of Climate Change: Why it Matters”; and “Towards a New Type of Science for Climate Change”. To end this prologue, I just want to highlight that the aim of this bilingual collection of texts is to provide valid criteria to contextualize the discourses accompanying the news coverage of events related to climate change.
Madrid, June 2012
Reference topics addressed by Spanish news television programmes in their coverage of the climate change summits in Cancun and Durban JosĂŠ-Luis PiĂąuel-Raigada Gemma Teso-Alonso
N 11 DECEMBER, 1997, the so-called "Kyoto Protocol" was signed in Kyoto, Japan. This protocol established the commitments that signatory countries should take in order to control the emission of CO2and other greenhouse gases, which are supposedly responsible for the temperature increase in the planet. The protocol was signed by 84 countries, but other countries, including the United States, China and even Japan, declined to do so until the commitments and rules governing the agreement were clearer. After the celebration of this agreement, conventions and summits have been held annually to discuss issues related to climate change and to try to reach binding commitments among UN 147
memberstates to advance in the adoption of measures to mitigate the dangers caused by the emission and accumulation of harmful gases in the atmosphere. Since the production and accumulation of gases is an eminently technical and scientific problem, the perception that ordinary people have of this problem is very important. In this regard, people‟s main source of information is news broadcasts, especially television programmes, which haveproven to have the greatest impact in shaping public opinion. Methods To learn more about the role of television and its treatment of climate change, we monitored the Spanish television newsprogrammes covering the climate change summits in Cancun and Durban. The selected news items were recorded and subjected to content analysis based on a purpose-created protocol, which included a typology to classify news items into 10 related themes/topics:environmental conditions; access to or use of natural resources; maintenance of biodiversity; natural disasters; natural disasters resulting from human intervention; disasters resulting from social movements and confrontations; uncertainties and fears that hinder future plans to face anticipated natural changes; projects and actions aimed at tackling environmental risks; projects and actions aimed at tackling social conflicts and confrontations; and projects and actions on education environmental. Results The analysis showed that more than 60% of the news items on the Cancun Summit, and more than one third of the news items on the Durban Summit focused on projects and actions aimed at tackling environmental risks, which was atopic considered in the proposed classification. Other important topics on which television news programmes put emphasis when reporting on the Cancun Summit were those related “the uncertainties and fears that hinder future plans to face anticipated natural changes” and “projects and actions on environmental education”(e.g. education for responsible consumption, energy savings and waste treatment). However, during the Durban Summit, the second and the third most frequently 148
addressed themes were those related to “environmental conditions” and “natural disasters caused by human interventions”. Topics included in the media’s agenda Some background needs to be given on thecurrent agenda setting. Firstly, it is necessary to mention the so-called public media agenda. The concept of “agenda setting” (McCombs and Shaw, 1972) refers to a strategy of the media that aims to establish the salience and public hierarchy of the important social issues they present, through their circulation, dissemination and public discussion. Thus, as Noelle-Neumann (1974) points out, the agenda setting is based on individuals‟ perception of the state of public opinion: the crucial factor is the importance that individuals believe other people attribute to a certain issue. The agenda-setting theory has synthesized a large number of the theoretical efforts made to describe the influence or effects of the media on the audiences. Going beyond the theories thatargue that the eventual influence of the media depends on the psychosocial conditions or dispositions of the public at the time of consumption (for example, the uses and gratifications theory of Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch, 1973), theagenda setting theory foregrounds the media‟s capacity toshape the attitudesthat have not been fully constituted as such in individuals. According to David H. Weaver (1981), the agenda-setting theory will be confirmedmainly in the case of topics on which individuals do not have alternative information to contrast their importance. According to Luhmann (1998), the media‟s agenda-setting process is based on selection criteria, or what he has called “attention rules”. The existence of these rules prior to the agenda settingsuffice for this author to affirm that individuals, despite their possible preferences, can only choose between the thematic selections that have been previously established by the mass media. Luhmann proposes a new conception of the public opinion as a thematic structure that aims to reduce complexity in a “structurally complex” society like ours. Moreover, the agenda setting only works insofar asthe media presents the same themes (accumulation); these themes 149
convergence in different media (consonance); and their “omnipresence” generates a climate of opinion (see Neumann, 1980). Thus, the themes that are mentioned the most, have the largest audiences, and are given the most time and space in the media (e.g. in television or the press), offer the possibility of a more systematic expository diet (cultivation) and have the biggest possibility of creating a limited view of the world (see Gerbner, 1976): by sharing images, expectations, definitions, interpretations and values. There is currently a broad consensus on the division that exists in the public opinion about the certainty/uncertainty of the global risks of climate change. As Carvalho, A. (2009) points out, in her analysis of the frameworks established by a large number of American newspapers and news agencies about the science of climate change, between March 2003 and February 2004 (Antilla,2005), it is clear that there is a contrast between the growing consensus in the scientific community and the image of controversy or uncertainty generated by the media due to the great attention paid to a few climate change “sceptics”. According to Carvalho: "The media are key elements in the mediation of the “relations of definition” (Beck, 1992) between the scientific, public and political spheres. The notion of science as an “ivory tower”, free from the public exhibition and debate, is increasingly becoming more inadequate. Since our “risk society” (Beck, 1992) generates new problems that affect us all but require a scientific interpretation, scientists are required to get "out on the streets" and provide the basis for political decisions. Politicians often expect scientists to provide answers to the problems discussed in the media and other public venues, and make a variety of public uses of science to legitimise their action or inaction. Scientific knowledge is also used by a large number of social actors, including corporations and activists, to justify specific programmes. As new links between citizens, scientists, politicians and media professionals are established; the anchor of science and politics has become increasingly more public and science has been exposed to criticism, refutation, and deconstruction.” 150
The situation described by Carvalho is what justifiesour object of study: “Reference topics addressed by Spanish news television programmes in their coverage of the climate change summits in Cancun and Durban”, which is part of the R&D project “The media‟s hegemonic discourse onclimate change (Risk, Uncertainty and Conflict) and an experimental test with alternative discourses among young people” (reference number: CSO2010-19636COMU), directed by José-Luis Piñuel. Background information on climate change summits It was more than 20 years ago that the international scientific community reached a general consensus on the existence of climate change and its anthropogenic origin, caused by high concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In November, 1990, 700 scientists from diverse disciplines gathered at the first World Climate Conference, held in Geneva, where they reviewed the first report issued by the IPCC. After this review, they made a scientific statement that made clear the scientific consensus on the estimates related to the temperature increase of the planet in the 21st century. This statement also urgednations to act immediately to control the risk of climate change. In June 1992, the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro. For the first time, politician representing 160 countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNECCC), in which they promised to set a political agenda to combat global warming. Article 2 of the UNECCC demanded the stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. In article 4, the signatories of the document agreed to hold subsequent conferences and the Climate Summit in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. Summits of the nations were later held in Buenos Aires, Nairobi, Bali, Copenhagen and Cancun and Durban. These summits sponsored by UNECCC had a priority objective that the noted French sociologist Edgar Morin called an earthlyeco-policy. “…This policy must establish the rules to preserve biodiversity and forests, to reduce agriculture and industrialized farms that contaminate soil, 151
water and food, to protect subsistence crops and propose responses to global warmingâ€?1. And in this sense, the Copenhagen Summit held from 7 to 18 December, 2009, had the ambitious goal of establishing a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gases emissions (especially the CO2), that would replace the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 onwards. With 119 heads of state, 193 countries and 5,000 accredited journalists from around the world, the expectations for this summit were enormous. During the summit, and given the complexity of the negotiations in the midst of a global economic crisis that conditioned the economic commitments of the nations to invest in the necessary actions to mitigate climate change, the negotiations were divided between the developed and developing countries. The protagonist role taken by China and the US during the agreement, despite the participation of dozens of countries, and the existence of private meetings organised by the US without taking the UN into consideration provoked the resentment of many nations.Obamaâ€&#x;s pledge to reduce GHG by 17% in comparison to 2005 (only 4% less than in 1990, which is the reference year laid down in the Kyoto Protocol) was considered insufficient by the EU, which pledged to reduce GHGemissions by 20%,expandable to 30%, in comparison to 1990. For its part, China pledged to reduce GHGemissions per unit of GDP by up to 45% by 2020 compared with that of2005, making clear that its commitment was voluntary. During the last days of negotiations, many points remained unclear. As the days passed, negotiators continued discussing procedures, forms and technicalities but did not provide specific figures on emissions cuts, the temperaturesthat wereconsidered acceptable for the year 2100, or the cost of climate change in poor countries. There was neither progress on the specific formulas to finance these measures. However, the US Secretary of State affirmed that if China agreed to let the UN audit its emissions, theUS would
Edgar Morin 2011. La vĂa para el futuro de la Humanidad. Espasa libros, S.L.U., p. 82. 152
cooperate to the long term fund for poor countries with 70 billion euros per year from 2020, which helped advancing in the negotiations. Reference topics in the Spanish TVâ€™s coverage of the Cancun and Durban Summits The analysis protocol applied to thenews items broadcast by Spanish television news programmes about the Cancun and Durban summits (170 and 140, respectively) considered two types of procedures: 1) the transcription and encoding of texts, on- and off-camera commentary and keywordsincluded in each news item,and 2) the classification of the references used in each news item. These proceduresprovided the results and conclusions offered in this article. Contextualisation of the thematic analysis The protocol given to analysts to examine each of the selected news items2included five stages and thus five chapters of variables: Analysis of identification features (with variables for registration number, names of the network and news programme, type according to formal direction and production features, broadcasting date, duration, dimensions, etc.) Analysis of off-camera commentary or voice-over. Focused on identifying the features of the off-camera speakers and discourses. Analysis of on-camera discourses, delivered either in short participationsor interviews made by the presenter, reporter or special correspondent. As a single news item (or interview) can have several on-camera speakers, analysts were required to examine each of them separately, but only examining a maximum of three on-camera participations per speaker.
The protocol designed for the content analysis of the television news programmes is described in details by Teso Alonso, Gemma and Ă guila Coghlan, J.C. (2011).
Analysis of the discourse of the images. Focused on identifying the most relevant discursive features of thevideo images that accompany the off-camera commentary broadcast live and the prerecorded news item. Analysis of the narrative conclusion of the news item. This is the final part in the Excel data sheet. The procedure followed in each of these previous stages wasvery similar and can be summarized as follows: Choose the topic/theme that canbest represent the content of the discourse. Establish the mode in which the discourse is delivered. The categories vary depending on whether the discourse is delivered offcamera, on-camera, through images, or through the narrative ending. Determine the category of the speaker, which varies according to the levels of the enunciation that are considered below. Establish all the points made by the discourse, first offcamera,secondly on-camera, if any, and then through pictures and the narrative ending. Identify the represented subject matter in each form of discourse. Identify the actors referred to in the discourse. The categories result from the combination of two variables: the relation of the actor with climate change risk and the social role attributed to theactor. Typology to classify the theme of the discourse There were 10 categories to classify the predominant theme of the discourse of the news items, and their perception by the audience: 1. Environmental conditions (e.g. temperature, air quality, light, etc.). 2. Access to or use of natural resources (e.g. water, food, energy, etc.). 154
3. Maintenance of biodiversity (e.g. ecological balance of the reproduction of species, pandemics and morbidity, etc.). 4. Natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, floods, droughts, hurricanes, etc.). 5. Natural disasters resulting from human interventions on the territory (e.g. over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution, attacks on ecosystems, deforestation, desertification, etc.). 6. Disasters resulting from social movements confrontations (e.g. migrations, wars, devastation, etc.).
7. Uncertainties and fears that hinder future plans to face anticipated natural changes (e.g. climatic and environmental disputes). 8. Projects and actions -official or spontaneous- aimed at tackling environmental risks (e.g. renewable energy, organic farming, energy savings, waste recycling, GHG emissions, etc.). 9. Projects and actions aimed at tackling risks of social conflicts and confrontations (e.g. pacifist movements, actions of solidarity, etc.). 10. Projects and actions on environmental education (e.g. education in responsible consumption, energy saving, waste treatment, etc.). Discourse delivery mode The categories to classify the discourse delivery mode vary depending on whether the discourseis delivered through off-camera voice, oncamera speaker, images, or narrative ending. The positionsof the discourse via voice-over in relation to the content will be classified intochallenging, confirmatory, orunclear. The positions of the oncameraspeakers in relation to the theme will be classified intochallenging, confirmatory or neutral. The position of the images in relation to the voice-over discourse will also be classified intoconfirmatory, contradictory, or unclear. Images referring to the threats of climate change will be further classified into the following 155
categories: the derivative “fears, risks or dangers”, the "conflicts experienced when undertaking actions to tackle climate change", and“other alternatives”.Finally, the alternatives of the narrative endings will be classified into “offering a solution”, “declaring an impasse” or “not even presenting problems”. If the narrative ending offers solutions, they will be further classified depending on whether they refer to interactions in the social system, communicative interactions, or interactions with the environment. On the other hand, if an impasse is declared, it will be classified according to the system hold responsible for it: the social system, the communications systems, or the unsustainabilityof the environment itself. Classification of speakers according to enunciation levels Before describing this part of the protocol, it is worth remembering the words of González-Requena, J. (1988): "All discourses talk about something -their hypothetical referent-, but they can also be conceived as the words of someone -someone who stands up and talks. …/… The televisualdiscourse, given its great complexity, should be understood as a macro discourse constituted by multiple lowergrade discourses with very varied characteristics”. This concept of macro discourse leads us to set different levels of enunciation. The first level includes the speakers that address us directly, i.e. the people delivering the message or information more or less directly, and can in turn mention or refer to other subjects/agents/actors and attribute or not a discourse to them. Our protocol has considered the following possible types of speakers, whichin the case of images-based discourses would be hypostatized by the type of climate change threats that the images transmit:
Table 1. First level of enunciation
Table 2. Second level of enunciation
At the second level are those actors referred to from the first level. These actors are classified according to the role they play in the news story. In order to identify the different types of actors referred to in the first level discourse, we identified a list of categories based on a combination of two variables: 1) their relation to climate change risk (there are six options: victim, accused, witness, expert, denier, or claimant), and 2) their relation to their social role (there are eight options: journalist, politician, activist, entrepreneur, scientist, citizen, 157
government or climate change expert). The following table presents the possible types of actors. Since the boxes have been numbered based on a combination of social roles and narrative functions in relation to the theme of the discourseâ€&#x;s agenda, these codes may result in the following categories of actors. Table 3. Categories of actors referred to in the first-level of enunciation
The third level includes those actors whom the main speaker allows to talk in the news story, either through a live interview, ora prerecorded on-camera participation inserted within the news item. These actors are also classified according to the previous categories but with their identity added in each case. Finally, the fourth level includes the actors referred to from the third level, i.e. those actors mentioned by the people interviewed by 158
journalists. They are also classified according to the previous categories and their identity, when this is disclosed in the discourse. Theme of the discourse delivered by the actors of the news story After the identification of the theme of reference and the position taken towards it, both by the first and third levels of the enunciation, we focused on the discourses spoken on- and off-camera. Table 4. Outline for the analysis of enunciation
In the case of the uncertainties of climate change, the speaker may refer to â€œsomething that has been saidâ€?, â€œsomething that has been 159
done” or “something that is happening” in relation to this theme. In this regard, the preparation of this section of the protocol is based on the knowledge obtained by the MDCS research group from its previous R&D research project entitled “Study of the hegemonic discourse about truth and communication in the media‟s selfreferential information, based on the analysis of the Spanish press” (Piñuel-Raigada J.L. and Gaitán-Moya J.A. 2010). Table 4 shows the general schema to analyse on- and off-camera discourses. Theme of the images playing a role in the discourse The analysis of the images used in the news items firstly focuses on identifying their relation to the ten reference topics established in the protocol. The analysis then focuses on identifying the relationship between the content of the images and the discourses delivered in voice-over. It is common to find a complementarity or confirmation, but there are contradictions in significant cases. The question posed by the protocol to the analyst examining the images is as follows: “On the thematic category (1 to 10) the segment of images shows: ...” The narrative conclusion of the audiovisual discourse The final step of the content analysis was to identify the proposals made by the different actors of the discourse as possible solutions to the global conflict caused by the risk of climate change. For each unit of analysis, there are three possible outcome variables: A solution is proposed Impasse (no solution) No problem or conflict is posed When an impasse is declared, it is necessary to identify the fundamental frameworks that are hold responsible for the absence of solutions: The Social system The communication systems The unsustainability of the environment itself
When a solution is proposed, it is necessary to summarise it in one clear sentence that allow us to identify the fundamental frameworks in which it can be based on: Interactions in the Social system Communicative interactions Interactions with the environment The following table shows the outline for the analysis of the discourse of the images. Table 5. Outline for the analysis of the discourse of the images
The agenda setting of the risk of climate changein the television news coverage of the Cancun and Durban summits Before presenting the data obtained from the analysis of the thematic selection made in the television news coverage of the Cancun summit, it is necessary to briefly discuss the criteria used to develop the aforementioned 10 thematic categories to classify the news references about climate change.
Spheres of uncertainty and responses to disruptionsinthe expected course of events The actions that can be planned by individuals are integrated in patterns of behaviour whose planned execution, routine or not, has spatio-temporal limits whose transgression can cause unexpected or extraordinary events. The “shells of life” (Moles, A. Psicología del espacio, Aguilera, Madrid, 1972), or the spheres of lived environment, where individuals can best avoid disruptionsto the expected course of events, are those areas whereindividuals can exercise their cognitive and effective dominion more easily, with a generalised lower effort, and imposing a more secure spatio-temporal order. If this order is not maintained, individuals will be “at the mercy of the course of events”, i.e. under the risk that the expected events get interrupted, do not occur, or get postponed. For this reason the order that people try to impose cognitively and effectively over thespatio-temporal environments constitutes a resistance to the unexpected change, i.e. an imposition of routines. The imposition of routines and the resistance to change, by maintaining surveillance of the environments where the activity itself should develop,become weak when the cognitive and effective dominionof the spatio-temporal environment decreases, because thesize of the environments increases, the duration (or delay) of the planned activities becomes longer, and more people intervene in the course of events. In such circumstances individuals are forced to avoid the disruption of the expected course of eventsby trying to prevent the situations they can control the least. It is obvious that sometimes individuals cannot achieve this and it is the dominion of social life, which is continuously changing, what providesthe social resources to manage the spatio-temporal environments, where customs consolidate routines and social precautionsagainst the disruption of the expected course of events (Piñuel, J.L. 2008). The disruption of the expected course of eventsis perceived differently depending on the margins of their precautions. If the margins are extreme, the perception of threats or risks associated with the disruption of the expected course of events disappears. If the precaution margin of individuals isintermediate, the disruptions of the 162
expected course of eventsare perceived as threats or risks. And this is the source of uncertainties for the meta-representations of the discourses, current or not, that circulatein individuals‟ interpersonal and social networks. However, individuals‟precaution margins always depend on thedifferent degrees of intensity with which individuals experience their personal involvement in the course of events and on the different intervals or delays of reflexivity between the stimuli and the reactions at stake. In the following figure, “me”, “here” and “now” are in the point of origin in relation to thedisruptions in the expected course of eventsthat produce different reactions in individuals. The urgency of these reactions is different depending on the intensity with which they are triggered and the complexity with which they are undertaken. The more immediate the urgency of the reaction is, the lower the complexity is, and conversely, the higher the complexity in the construction of the response is, the least urgent the reaction appears to be. Otherwise, if the highest degree of complexity would correspond to the utmost urgency we would be doomed to be incapable to react to events. Figure 1: Spheres of uncertainty and responses to disruptions in the expected course of events
Figure 1 establishes "urgency" and "complexity" in an inverse relation, by resorting to notions of “involvement” and “reflexivity”. 163
When the "urgency" in the reaction does not come from a cognitive capital that remains conscious, but from an unconscious organic reaction, we do not talk about “threat” but “fear”, which is an emotional reaction experienced only by living beings, such as mammals, whose brain development (in the limbic system) has instinctive behaviour settings (called fixed-action patterns, which are common to the species), which in contrast to other living beings with inherited fixed-action patterns already involve emotions. Emotions serve precisely to improve organic reactions of urgency through discharges of neurotransmitter substances such as endorphins. Beyond the perceived "threats", the cognitive capital needed by individuals to build responses, according to the diagram in figure 1, acquires greater complexity from the mediations located between the reaction and the response of individuals, between the organism and the social construction ofbehaviour. Thus, a "danger" is perceived when the cognitive capital uses "generic discourses" that categorise the traits associated to situations that have not been sufficiently anticipated(for example, the cultural reactions to weather emergencies, such as droughts). Historically, there have been discourses that have been imposedin a hegemonic manner, sometimes as a result of dominant ideologies and sometimes as a result of cultural habits that are adopted across human groups, etc. When a discourse becomes hegemonic, the predictions ofdisruptions to the expected course of events serve to confirm the "vulnerability" that should be attended in order to avoid "risks", which are taken seriously only if the hegemonic discourse becomes an exemplary or "canonical discourse", to which society should adhere through the adoption of specific prediction or coping protocols. For example, Al Gore‟s An Inconvenient Truth was a generic audiovisual discourse that achieved social hegemony when it won an Oscar and also achieved scientific canonicity in the 27th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) session held in 2007 in Valencia. In all these intervals that go from lower to higher complexity, there is a growing mediation of previous communication 164
processes, of recursive social interactions that impose greater periods between involvement and reflexivity and cause greaterresponse delays. As a result, the â€œinvolvement of other peopleâ€?, which is indispensable to reach the perception and anticipation of "risks", increases significantly, as reflected in figure 1. The involvement, therefore, decreases as the reflexivity of the mediations and the necessary involvement of other people, groups, institutions and social formations increases. And conversely, the reflexivity of the mediations results minor as the urgency of the involvement is greater. Finally, we must mention that these new "spheres of uncertainty" become "spheres of survival" that, in our social dominion of life existence,resemble the layers of an onion: one can feel "fear" without perceiving a "threat", "danger", "vulnerability" or "risk"; but one cannot reflect on "risks" whose origins do not contain heteroreferences to "vulnerability", self-references to "danger", perceptions of "threats", and emotional reactions of "fear". Figure 2. Shells of learning routines: overcomingdependencies and becoming autonomous
It is obvious that the more that the news media present references "danger" and "threats" and provoke "fear" in the audience sectors that are most vulnerable to the complexity of their discourses (as it is the case of children), the more they intervene in the imposition of hegemonic discourses (by building the sense of "vulnerability") and canonical discourses (by contributing to the establishment of "risks" coping protocols).An illustrative example in this regard is the question asked by a child to his father after seeing a report about "climate change": "Dad, is it true that we are going to be burned by the heat?" The available cognitive capital is not disconnected from its historical moment. This cognitive capital is provided by the performance mechanisms learned from the interaction with other subjects, according to various routines developed in a historically changing environment through a slow and complex evolution of the habitat, from life in nature to the current urbanization; and a slow and complex evolution of intervals that the measuring of time hasmade possible, from the recursion of the day and the seasons to the current atomic clocks. Moreover,in a same moment in time different cultures react differentlyinsimilar activities, whatever their type. The historic adoption of these routines changes throughout the life of individuals, who first learn routines associated with bodily functions (toilet training, biological rhythms of diet, activity and rest, posture and motor skills, etc.), then with places, times and scenariosthat can be present in the interaction schemes that children learn to anticipate when they recognise an actor(or vice versa, actors that can be present in the mind of children when they recognise an interaction scheme linked to a place, a time or a scene, and so on up until acquiringroutine performance skills linked to the construction of identity and difference), and finally routines associated to the performance of social roles (se Piñuel J. L. and Lozano A. Carlos. Ensayo general sobre la comunicación, Chapter 3, Paidós, Barcelona, 2006). Therefore, there could also be a system of “learning spheres”that starts in the limits of corporeality and the immediacy of reflex responses up until reaching, in successive concentric layers, the spheres referring to the community environments and the 166
performance of action roles that are prescribed to be interpreted in institutional environments. Figure 2 represents the succession of these spheres by taking as the point of origin the initial and scarce genetic capital of responses to stimuli from the environment and by contemplating the acquisition of routines, from the most rigidand limited ones (linked to organic answers) to the most variable and flexible ones (linked to competition and social legitimation). This figure depicts the relationship that can be established between the rigidity and variability of the routines that integrate the capital available to individuals to locate themselves in the aforementioned spatio-temporal spheres. If these routines fail when individuals are about to execute them, this provokes perceptions and assessments of the events that destabilise their behaviour. In these failures, the margin of anticipation and the recovery of stability depend on the available capital. If this capital is just genetic (e.g. reflex arcs) the routines and the recovery of stability are very rigid and limited (e.g. learning by conditioning). As the routines become more flexible and varied they necessarily require the incorporation of the following skills to the genetic capital: Schemes of interaction (e.g., reinforcement demands and imitations in childrenâ€&#x;s gestures); Expressive practices linked to community environments (e.g., jargon associated with games or relations with peers in adolescence); Social practices based on the performance of roles (e.g., forms of treatment linked to hierarchies, as in the army); and, finally, Protocols of social legitimation in institutional practices. For example, the formalities prescribed for the legitimate execution of ceremonies (like the â€œcommitment of fidelityâ€? in weddingscelebrated by many religions), which acquire a ritual validity that disappears if the celebration of the ceremony fails due to errors of protocol. It is known that if the routines are based onphysical responses, theirfailure is successfully resolvedas individualscontrol their 167
responses by distancing them from stimuli andusing (positive or negative) reinforcements, and provided individuals consolidate the innovation that the conditioninginvolves. This occurs in the early childhood (first six months of life) when individuals show an organicdependency in their learning. When the baby begins to develop interaction schemes, it progresses in its organic autonomy but shows a new dependence on the environmentswhere its interaction takes place: home, kindergarten, etc. With the slow learning of oral expression (for example, speaking turns) and later of written expression (for example, self-recognition when signing a text) individuals acquire the ability to become â€œsubjects of enunciationâ€?, and become independent from the actions in progress; for teenagers, the rupture between the discourse and the course of events are related to truth/falsehood (e.g. stating what happens), good/evil (e.g. what should be done in response to what is said) and attractiveness/repulsiveness (e.g. the way of explaining what is done). Thereafter the social learning of routines to cope with the disruptions of the expected course of eventsoccurs through the mediation of socially available discourses that become hegemonic in some cases and, finally, canonical. The mass media contribute powerfully to this process which is always changing. The social practice of journalism, indispensable for the media, providesthrough its discourses the greatest social capital of knowledge and skills, which are used in the lifelong learning process that individualsundertake in order to be able to cope with the social environment. We have shown how social learning provides individualswiththe cognitive resources (knowledge) and skills (competencies) that will allow them to engage in the social environment. Social life is structured according to the interactions that have historically been established in the form of unwritten rules (culture) which give place to more or less changing social habits and customs. The social practice of journalism provides social and cultural resources and skills to deal with the social environment and cope with the uncertainty of the disruption of the expected course of events. One of the most common concerns expressed by the most important personalities in 168
the current public arena provided by the mass media is the uncertainty that has been incorporated into peopleâ€&#x;s culture by the mediaâ€&#x;s permanent representations of risk. In the context of the information society, the paradigm of our time, citizens are permanently exposed to large volumes of information, particularly provided by the media, which are prone to emphasise situations of insecurity and risk, violent incidents and disasters. This accumulation of media information contributes to the social construction of an essential discourse about uncertainty, which citizens perceive as a fundamental social reality that subsequently generates a culture of insecurity and fear that needs to be analysed. In this context, our purpose is to establish a relationship between the discourses of the media and the social construction of the uncertainty surrounding the disruptions of the expected course of events. Today, many of our activities are scheduledbased on the information provided by the media. Based on this informationpeople adjust themselves to anticipated activities (routine or not) when the course of events is as expected; and if the course of event goes as expected, the certainty of knowledge is reaffirmed. On the other hand, uncertainty emerges when the course of events is unexpected or ignored in the mediaâ€&#x;s agendas, and if this disrupts the expectations, the situation demands a readjustment of the activity. It is therefore very important to set the agenda, in this case about climate change, by taking into consideration the previous premises.
Televisual discourse and disruptions in the expected course of eventsin relation to climate change The thematic categories related to climate change that have been used in the analysis of the television coverage of the Cancun and Durban Summits can be justified according to the spatio-temporal spheres of existence and the provision of coping routines shown in table 6.
Table 6. Thematic categories about climate change, according to spatiotemporal spheres of existence and the provision of coping routines
The first column in table 6 shows three initial areas of interaction: the social provisions towards the environment, which is permanently conditioned by the Social System [SS], in the short, medium and long terms; the disruptions of the expected course of events in the inhabited environment or Ecological System [ES], which may occur immediately and naturally or may be derived from human interventions over the territory, or from movements that alter the territory indirectly; and finally, the Preventive Action Agenda that includes projects that would never be possible without a Communication System of [CS] that communicates and prescribes them to the public, and may protect against immediate fears and uncertainties, or may build action plans against environmental risks directly caused by natural events or by conflicting human actions that impact the territory, or may provide environmental education plans likely to ensure, in the long term, the reduction of risks associated to unwanted climate change. 171
The second column of this table includes the 10 thematic categories created for the analysis and their relation to the initial areas of interaction previously described. The third and fourth columns include those aspects that correspond to the spheres of existence that were previously described based on the heuristic proposed by Abraham Moles. This way, the statistical analysis of the televisual coverage of the Cancun and Durban Summits provides new perspectives on the themes of reference presented in the news programmes. Thematic categories addressedin the Spanish TV news coverage of the Cancun and Durban summits: results The analysis of the prevalence of the different thematic categories in the coverage of Cancun and Durban summits by Spanish Television news programmes provided many and very significant findings. This section will only discuss the findings about the frequency of appearance and modes of expression of these thematic categories in the discoursesdelivered through voice-over, on-camera speakers and images. Frequency of appearance of thematic categories in off-camera discourses, according to mode in which their content is addressed As Diagram1 shows,the most common thematic category in the offcamera discoursesis the number 8,“Projects and actions -official or spontaneous- aimed at tackling environmental risks (e.g. renewable energy, organic farming, energy savings, waste recycling, GHG emissions, etc.)”, with more than 60% of appearances. This was expected given the informative objective of the coverage of the summit. The second most common category, by a great distance, was thenumber 7,“Uncertainties and fears that hinder future plans to face anticipated natural changes (e.g. climatic and environmental disputes)”, with 11% of appearances. 172
Diagram 1: Frequency of appearance of the thematic categories in offcamera discourses (in the coverage of the Cancun Summit)
Now, considering the mode in whichthe existence of these issues were addressed, the categories that were presented positively, i.e. confirmed, the most were, in decreasing order, the categories 8 and 7. They were followed by the categories 10 (“Projects and actions on environmental education) and 9 (Projects and actions aimed at tackling risks of social conflicts and confrontations). Meanwhile, the existence of the issue number 3 (Maintenance of biodiversity) wasmainly challenged. As the previous Diagram shows, in the coverage of the Durban Summit there were no references to the theme number 9 (“Projects and actions aimed at tackling risks of social conflicts and confrontations”). Meanwhile, the theme number 8 was once again the most referenced item. The second most referenced theme was the number 1 (“environmental conditions”), whose existence was mostly confirmed. This was followed, in third place, by the theme number 5: “Natural disasters resulting from human interventions on the territory”.
Diagram 2: Frequency of appearance of the thematic categories in offcamera discourses (in the coverage of the Durban Summit)
Frequency of appearance of the thematic categories in discourses delivered by on-camera speakers, and classification according to the mode in which their content is addressed As Diagram 3 shows, half of the analysed news items do not have oncamerastatements about any of the thematic categories,in neither live norpre-recordedform. More than 60% of the news items that did have at least oneon-camera speaker used it to talk refer to the theme number 8 (“Projects and actions -official or spontaneous- aimed at tackling environmental risks”). Meanwhile, only 20% of the news items with on-cameraactorsreferred to theme number 1 ("Environmental conditions”). Both of these themeswere presented from a challenging perspective. However, theme number 10 (“Projects and actions on environmental education”) was always presented from a confirmatory perspective. 174
Diagram 3: Coverage of the Cancun Summit: Frequency of appearance of the thematic categories in discourses delivered by on-camera speakers (when there is only one) and classification according to the mode in which their content is addressed (Total 1)
If we compare Diagram3 and 4 we can see that there are no significant differences in the coverage of the Cancun and Durban summits in terms of the frequency of appearance of the thematic categories in the discourses delivered by on-camera speakers and the mode of addressing these themes. In both cases, the most common themes were “Projects and actions -official or spontaneous- aimed at tackling environmental risks” (number 8) and “Environmental conditions” (number 1). Moreover, the most common perspective used in the coverage of these themes was confrontation (challenging) The only significant difference in the thematic coverage of both summits is that there was more thematic diversity in the coverage of the Cancun Summit than in the Durban Summit.
Diagram4: Coverage of the Durban Summit: Frequency of appearance of the thematic categories in discourses delivered by on-camera speakers (when there is only one) and classification according to the mode in which their content is addressed
The thematic categories included in the discourses delivered through images Beyond the spoken discourse, TV news items are usually accompanied by sequences of images with or without sound or voiceover. Images can serve to illustrate or showthe "conflicts experienced when undertaking actions to tackle climate change", “fears, dangers, risks or disasters”, or alternative actions to such threatening circumstances. In the television news items covering the Cancun Summit (see Diagram5) the theme illustrated the most by video images was the number 8, "projects and actions aimed at tackling the risk of climate change”. The images illustrating this topic showedboth the “conflicts experienced when undertaking actions to tackle climate change” and, 176
to a lesser degree, “the fears, dangers, or disasters”.Fears weremore associated with the representation of the theme number 5 (disasters derived from human interventions) than with the representation of theme number 1 (quality of “environmental conditions”). Diagram 5: Themes represented with video images and what the images show (Cancun Summit)
As we can see in the following Diagram (6), which shows the themes illustrated with video images, and the content of these images,in the news coverageof the Durban Summit, the theme number 8 (“projects and actions aimed at tacklingthe risks of climate change”)was also the most frequently represented with images. In the representation of this theme the images mostly showed “other alternatives”. Images about 177
“fears, dangers or disasters”were more predominant in the representation of the themesnumber 1 (quality of the “environmental conditions” of the immediate environment) and number 5 (“disasters derived from human interventions”), which also includes images of the "conflicts experienced when undertaking actions to tackle climate change". Diagram 6: Themes represented with video images and what the images show (Durban Summit)
5.4. Predominant structure of all the on-camera discoursesabout climate change in TV news Finally, table 7 shows the number of on-camera discourses included in the TV news coverage ofthe Cancun Summit, the types of oncamera SPEAKERS that make statements (either about what has been said, what has been done, or what is happening), the themes they address (what has been said, what has been done, or what is happening), the categories of actors they refer to, and theform of that chain of references. 178
Table 7: Content of the discourses used in the coverage of the Cancun Summit
Source: GaitĂĄn-Moya, J.A. and Ă guila-Coghlan, J.C. (2011)
As table 7 shows, there are three types of discourses: the discourse of the political monologuethat involves the presence of a politician who has a pontificating attitude, is focused on outlining and diagnosing thestate of the problem, in such a way that describes what is being done and what is happening, without blaming the governmentsbut demanding their actions. This simple declarative discourse occupies more than a quarter of the on-camera discourses. The most common discourse is what we might call the controversial discourse, which makes use of two on-camera speakers to express the complexity of the problem that is taking place. Unlike the political monologue that is delivered by a single person, the controversial discourse involves the presence of two or more on-camera speakers which constitutes a display of a dialectical contrast of different positions. The last discourse, of intra-political criticism, combines the presence of politicians making statements, and activists whochallenge the politiciansâ€&#x; statements and become the alter ego needed for a dialogic discoursecharacterised by the inclusion of opposing arguments and positions on a given topic. These usual opposing positions reveal a paradigmatic discourse about climate change: the controversial discoursethat has as protagonists two well-defined types of actors: politicians and activists. In this discoursethe actors almost always 179
express something that is said about what is/has been done. In other words, the discourse consists of criticism towards political actions. Of course, the object of criticism, for both politicians and activists, are the governments. Thus, the on-camera statements in the news programmes specify the responsibility of the governments in power (their own or othersâ€&#x;) in the existing problem and the danger it involves. Unlike the political monologue, these statements are characterised for blaming the governments rather than for demanding them to undertake the most convenient political actions to cope with the problem. As table 8 shows, there are slight significant differencesinterms of the content and structure of the discourses used in the coverage of the Durban and Cancun summits. Table 8: Content of the discourse used in the coverage of the Cancun and Durban Summits
Thus, in the Durban Summit there was an absence of the controversial discourse, which provided the politicians vs. activistâ€™s debate in the Cancun Summit. In the Durban Summit there was protagonism of the political monologue discourse where politicians only had a single possible alternative intra-political criticism discourse (not counter-argumentative), that of the victims of environmental disasters. In the news coverage of the Durban Summit politicians talked about what other politicians said 180
about what has been done and/or what is happening/has happened in relation to climate change, without holding anyone as responsible, and only referring to and blaming the governments when there was an opportunity to talk about the victims of climate change. In short, the transformation suffered by the discourse on climate change from Cancun to Durban is impoverishing: the discourse of the television news programmes became simpler, due to the lack of space and time: with fewer speakers, with the almost unique protagonism of politicians who onlyexpressed their own opinion, while activists disappeared as the counter-argumentative alter-ego, and the testimonial space was only given to the victims of climate change. Conclusions As stated at the beginning of this paper, the perception that the citizens may have of the problem of climate change supposedly originates from the contribution of the thematic agenda that the media develops day by day, being the news programmes the main source of information, particularly the television news programmes, which have the greatest impact in shaping public opinion on a given topic. Specifically, the perception that individuals haveof the state of public opinion is based on the importance that individuals believe others attribute to the certain issues. So it is theagenda-setting conducted by the media what leads individuals to choose, despite their possible preferences, between thematic selections that have been previously established by the mass media. Hence the importance of analysingthediscoursesused by television news programmes in their coverage of the annual summits on climate change. The methodology of analysis applied to the universe of climate change news broadcast by Spanishtelevision news programmes during the last two climate change world summits has revealed certain aspects of the thematic selection of the problems related to climate change and certain structural features of its hegemonic discourse. With regards to the thematic selection, in both summits the frequency of references to the â€œProjects and actions â€“official or 181
spontaneous– aimed at tacklingenvironmental risks (e.g. renewable energy, organic farming, energy savings, waste recycling, GHG emissions, etc.)” is outstanding, both in on and off camera discourses, as well as in video images that are used to illustrate them. Thepredominance of this thematic category, whose more relevant features is to assert, rather than question, confrontations and/or conflicts, responds to the dominant presence of politicians who, above all, talk about what is said among them, about what they do more than what is happening. The references of these politicians were almost exclusively directed to the governments and particularly were directed at demanding their action or involvement. During the Cancun Summit politicians made these demands and also blamed the governments, but in the Durban Summit these demands were not accompanied by criticism or replies, but only by a controversial or monologue discourse. Thus, it can be said that the discourse that is becoming hegemonic on climate change in Spanish television news programmes stands out for its high degree of spectacularisation about the conflict, whose protagonists are politicians and governments and whose statements refer in turn to their own conflictive discourses. This discourse is then a meta-discourse centred particularly in political accusations rather than actions and projects. It will not be surprising that if thistype of production of meaning continues climate change will end up beingassociated to the political controversy. And that is just how it goes. Bibliography Antilla, L. (2005) “Climate of scepticism: us newspaper coverage of the science of climate change,” Global Environmental Change 15: 338–52. Beck, U. (1992) Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: SaGe Berger, Peter L. and Luckmann, Thomas (1972): La construcción social de la realidad. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu. 185-216.
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Communicating Uncertainties: climate skeptics in the international media James Painter
HIS PAPER focuses on the prevalence of climate scepticism â€“ in its various formsâ€“ in the print media around the world. Most previous academic research on climate scepticism has tended to focus on the way it has been organised, and its impact on policy outputs, rather on the types of scepticism and the individuals who represent them. The paper lays out the different forms of scepticism, and gives examples of the differences between them. It then draws on extensive content analysis of a large data base of newspaper articles in Brazil, China, France, India, the UK and the USA taken from two separate three-month periods in 2007 and 2009/10. It shows the country variations in the quantity, type and professional backgrounds of sceptics quoted in the press. It concludes that climate scepticism is largely an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon, found most frequently in the 187
US and British newspapers, and explores some of the reasons why this may be so. General background In recent years climate change, and the science underpinning it, has become a contested, polarised and politicised issue. This is particularly true of the USA, UK and Australia, but the degree of contestation has not been replicated in many other countries, and particularly the global South. The roles which print and broadcast media in these countries play in amplifying contestation has come under increasing scrutiny from a wide variety of interested parties. Politicians, lobby groups, climate scientists and academics, representing both mainstream and sceptical climate viewpoints, have often been very vocal in their criticism of the media either for giving too much space to sceptics or too little. The former US vice-president Al Gore is one prominent example of a politician who has adopted a particularly high profile stance in strongly attacking parts of the media in the USA for promoting the views of sceptics. (Gore 2011) Many mainstream climate scientists and academics have added their voices to the criticism of the media. For example, in June 2011 a group of prominent scientists in Australia gave a scathing assessment of the media there (and particularly those outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch‟s News Corp) as following erroneous presumptions about the way science works. These ranged from „being utterly false to dangerously ill-informed to overtly malicious and mendacious‟. (Karoly et al, 2011). In not dissimilar fashion, a group of Australian academics published a survey in December 2011 of the media‟s coverage of the carbon policy debate in their country. Amongst their many conclusions was that the „fossil fuel lobby and other big business sources opposed to the policy were very strongly represented, often without any critique or second source. Clean 188
energy and other businesses sources in favour of the tax received low coverage.â€&#x; (Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, 2011) Both climate-sceptical and environmental lobby groups have also been particularly keen to criticise the media. For example, the popular US-based campaigning website Climate Progress regularly publishes critiques of the mainstream US print and broadcast media and blames them for misrepresenting the science.(Romm, 2011) On the other hand, since its formation in November 2009, the Londonbased Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has regularly criticised parts of the mainstream British media for overzealously following the mainstream consensus view on climate change, and for not giving more space to climate sceptical viewpoints. In December 2011, the GWPF published a report authored by a prominent British journalist and sceptic, Christopher Booker, which attacked the UK public service broadcaster, the BBC, for what he saw as its failure to report accurately and objectively on the issue of climate change. (Booker, 2011) The BBC for its part has subjected itself to scrutiny about its climate change reporting. In 2011, the BBC Trust, which amongst other things exists to monitor editorial standards across the BBC, commissioned a report to look at its general coverage of science topics, including climate science. The report included an independent assessment by Professor Steve Jones, who broadly praised the BBC for its science coverage, but criticised it for giving too much space to climate sceptics. (BBC, July 2011) The amplification of sceptical views on climate change in the media has led to criticism, mostly from mainstream climate scientists and academics, that editors and owners are aiding the process of denial of human-caused global warming amongst politicians and the public. In its most extreme form, they stand accused of helping to create a climate of doubt which hinders or blocks robust government 189
action or legislation to tackle climate change. (Painter, 2011, and Dunlap-McCright, 2011). Research Context Despite the salience and urgency of the theme, recent academic studies on climate change and the media have tended not to focus specifically on the role that named climate sceptics –in all their manifestations– play in the broadcast or print media. There has been even less research on the cross-country variations in the volume and type of sceptical voices included. Rather, several studies have concentrated on the way sceptical voices are organised, their links with conservative think tanks, and their overall objectives and methods of working. (Dunlap-McCright 2010, Greenpeace 2010, Hoggan 2009) A 2011 paper by two US scholars describes in pictorial form the hierarchical links between named fossil fuels industries, corporate organisations, conservative foundations, conservative think tanks and front groups in the USA. (Dunlap-McCright, 2011) At the bottom of their chart appear the socalled „Astroturf campaigns and organisations‟ such as Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Balanced Energy Choices. The same paper stresses the important political impact that such organised scepticism can have on national and international policy outcomes. They argue that „<…>it is reasonable to conclude that climate change denial campaigns in the U.S. have played a crucial role in blocking domestic legislation and contributing to the U.S. becoming an impediment to international policy-making(McCright and Dunlap 2003; Pooley 2010).‟ A 2011 UK study focuses on the presence of climate sceptic voices in the UK broadcast media‟s coverage of the Copenhagen summit in December 2009. (Gavin and Marshall, 2011) The study found that contrarian discourse was present in three out of twenty 190
two bulletins on the BBC and the ITV‟s late evening bulletins, accounting for just fewer than 14 per cent. The authors concluded that this was a „potentially damaging dimension. And although their messages did not figure prominently, it should be remembered that sceptics rarely seek to dominate debate, merely cloud it.‟ This is a view echoed in other studies of the objectives of organised climate scepticism, which is often to „manufacture doubt or uncertainty‟ in the minds of the public or policy makers (Oreskes- Conway, 2010; Dunlap-McCright 2010) Another 2011 study, this time of the US broadcast media, looked at the nature of climate change coverage in 2007 and 2008 of the three major cable news channels (Fox News, CNN and MSNBC). (Feldman et al, 2011) Again, it did not focus specifically on the presence of climate sceptics but rather on the tone of the coverage. It concluded that „of the three networks Fox News was simultaneously the least likely to be accepting and the most likely to be dismissive of climate change.‟ Whereas nearly 60% of Fox News broadcasts were dismissive, only 7% of CNN broadcasts were dismissive and none of the MSNBC broadcasts. Fox News forms part of the focus of a research paper published by the Australian academic David McKnight, who looked at the large numbers of media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch‟s News Corporation in Australia, the USA and the UK, and concluded that the company‟s newspapers and television stations „ <..>based on their editorials, columnists and commentators, largely denied the science of climate change and dismissed those who were concerned about it‟.(McKnight, 2010) He also noted important differences between the three countries, stressing that scepticism was more prominent in the USA and Australia than the UK. One of the earliest attempts to identify named individual sceptics in the media was a study by Liisa Antilla who included an 191
analysis of the presence of US climate sceptics in more than 500 newspaper articles in 2003-4. (Antilla, 2005) She concluded that „some of the news outlets repeatedly used climate sceptics –with known fossil fuel industry ties– as primary definers‟. Australian academics have looked at the prominence of a specific sceptic, the British Lord Christopher Monkton, in the broadcast media during his 2010 visit. According their study, Lord Monckton received saturation coverage on the various outlets of the state broadcaster, ABC. (Chubb, Nash 2010) They found that much of it was uncritical. They also pointed to the many fewer times Dr James Hansen, director of NASA‟s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a strong advocate on taking action to slow down global warming, appeared on ABC during his visit to Australia shortly afterwards; 5 compared to the 47 for Monckton over a comparable time period. What there are in more plentiful supply in the academic literature are studies of the more general nature of the content of media coverage of climate change, and in particular the question of „false balance‟. Much of it has focused historically more on the USA than other countries. The methodology commonly applied aims to capture the difference between those articles or reports which (1) present the viewpoint that anthropogenic global warming (AGW) accounts for all climate changes, (2) present multiple viewpoints, but emphasise that anthropogenic contributions significantly contribute to climate changes, (3) give a „balanced account ‟ surrounding the existence and non-existence of AGW, and (4) present multiple viewpoints but emphasise the claim that the anthropogenic component contributes negligently to changes in the climate. (Boykoff-Mansfield, 2008) Category (2) is regarded as best capturing mainstream science, while category (3) captures those articles which give roughly equal attention and emphasis to competing views. Category (4) is where sceptic, denialist, or contrarian views would be 192
most represented. The three most common categories –i.e. (2) to (4)– are often summarised as the „consensus view‟ (climate change is real and human-caused), the „falsely balanced view‟ (we don‟t know if climate change is real, or if humans are a cause), and the „dismissive view‟ (climate change is not happening, or there is no role for humans). Such a methodology usually includes the employment of the tools of Critical Discourse Analysis, which places the framing of climate change stories in their socio-economic, spatial and temporal context. (Boykoff, 2011) It goes beyond counting the frequency of words, phrases, and viewpoints to include salience, tone, ideological stances, tenor and other criteria which together give a more nuanced set of results than merely assessing the prevalence of sceptical voices. In particular, it has been used effectively by Boykoff and others to assess the prevalence of „false balance‟ in the media‟s treatment of climate science. The Boykoff brothers carried out a seminal piece of research on this in 2004 which concluded that 53% of the articles in four US prestige newspapers between 1998 and 2002 gave equal coverage to views that global warming was due to humans or was natural. This was famously described as „balance as bias‟, given the overwhelming scientific consensus (usually described as being over 95%) of climate scientists who accept the evidence for the former. (Boykoff-Boykoff, 2004) Further studies by Max Boykoff and others suggested that this bias was considerably less prominent in US and UK newspapers in subsequent years, although it remained prevalent in US broadcast media and UK tabloid journalism. (Boykoff, 2007; Boykoff 2008; Boykoff-Mansfield 2008) A 2011 study of five examples of the US prestige media (New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Politico and CNN.com), which used a similar methodology, suggested a similar trend. (Nisbet, 2011). The main conclusion of the study was that in their coverage of 193
climate change in 2009-10 these five media had generally moved past the much-criticised „he-said, she said‟ mode of false balance. The study prevalence of climate sceptic voices, although it did note a decline in most of the media studied in the „consensus view‟ (namely that „climate change is real and human-caused‟) between the pre- and post-Copenhagen periods. The Wall Street Journal, and particularly its opinion pages, was an exception, but in general the reporting reflected the consensus science. A critique of the Nisbet study questioned the decline in sceptical voices in some newspapers, and pointed to the prominence of such voices on US television, and particularly Fox News which is highly influential amongst US Republican voters and politicians.3 Many authors argue that „false balance‟ is still a serious issue to be addressed in many parts of the English-speaking media, although they accept the picture is very varied. Max Boykoff for example has most recently written that that „the journalistic norm of „balance‟ has served to amplify outlier views on anthropogenic climate change, and concurrently engendered an appearance of increased uncertainty regarding anthropogenic climate science‟. 4 Types of skepticism Considerable intellectual effort has gone into the discussion about the need to differentiate clearly between the types of sceptical voices. (Painter 2011) There has been a heightened debate about the correct terminology to describe them. Saffron O‟Neill and Max Boykoff for example criticise those who do not pay enough attention to the 3
„What kind of media analysis could possibly conclude the Washington Post covered climate well in 2009?‟, Climate Progress, 6 May 2011, quoted in James Painter, Poles Apart: the international reporting of climate scepticism, Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 2011, p. 38. 4
Max Boykoff, Who Speaks for the Climate? Making Sense of Media Reporting on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, 2011, p. 141. 194
nuances in defining the terms „deniers‟, „sceptics‟ and „contrarians‟, which they say can „increase polarisation within the climate debate‟. (O‟Neill-Boykoff, 2010) Even the word „sceptic‟ is contested. Mainstream climate scientists and those who question the science both want to hold onto, or seize, the word as their own, as scepticism is usually something scientists seek, practice and approve of. Many in the debate prefer the word „denier‟. McCright and Dunlap for example have argued that „the actions of those who consistently seek to deny the seriousness of climate change make the terms “denial” and “denier” more accurate than “skepticism” and “skeptic,” particularly since all scientists tend to be skeptics.‟ (Dunlap-McCright, 2011) This view that it is more accurate to call some climate sceptics „deniers‟ or even „denialists‟ is countered by those who see it as rather a Stalinist term, with echoes of those who deny the Holocaust. In other words, it has a moralistic tone and is almost a term of abuse. „Contrarians‟ have also been suggested instead of „sceptics‟. „Contrarian‟ has the advantage of making it clear that an individual or group is standing against the mainstream, but it is not an expression in common usage. McCright for example uses the epithet to describe climate contrarians as „those who vocally challenge what they see as a false consensus of mainstream climate science through critical attacks on climate science and eminent climate scientists, often with substantial financial support from fossil fuels industry organizations and conservative think tanks‟. (McCright, 2007) This is helpful, but one drawback is that as we shall see, some of the most prominent questioners of mainstream climate science do not seem to have such financial support. A useful way forward is to try and describe what individuals or groups are sceptical about. For example, many people labelled „sceptics‟ are not in fact deniers. Often they don‟t deny that global 195
warming is happening or that it is essentially human-caused. Rather, they are sceptical about whether human-driven warming is dangerous or catastrophic, or whether it requires large-scale policies to tackle it. They can argue any one or combination of the following: that climate models are essentially flawed or inaccurate and/or it is not known with enough certainty what the impacts will be; that urgent action by governments and/or substantial government spending on all or some aspects of mitigation or adaptation to counter global warming is not necessary (for example, short-term costs are too high, some parts of the world could benefit, the response is disproportionate to the threat, the impacts are too uncertain, and so on). There are several benefits to sticking with the label â€žscepticsâ€&#x; even while being aware of the differences between them. First it is what they call themselves; second, it is what the public and journalists are most used to; and thirdly, the alternatives feel clumsy or have other drawbacks. A helpful taxonomy can be reduced to four main types of sceptics: Trend sceptics (who deny the global warming trend) Attribution sceptics (who accept the trend, but either question the anthropogenic contribution saying it overstated, negligent or nonexistent compared to other factors like natural variation, or say it is not known with any or sufficient certainty what the main causes are) Impact sceptics (who accept human causation, but claim impacts may be benign or beneficial, or the models are not robust enough) Policy sceptics (who usually disagree with strong regulatory policies or interventions for the reasons described above) Such a relatively simple taxonomy has the added advantage of bringing more clarity to journalists (who often donâ€&#x;t make the 196
distinctions) and the public (which is often confused about where there is scientific consensus and where there is not). (Butler-Pidgeon 2009) For example, a survey carried out by Gallup in July 2007 of a sample of US citizens found that 40% of those asked believed that there was a lot of disagreement amongst scientists about whether or not global warming was happening. (Yale-Gallup-Clear Vision Institute 2007) However, a description of what individuals or organisations are sceptical about does not of course capture the differences between them in terms of their funding, motivations, ideology and political links, all of which are of crucial importance in some contexts. A selection of four media-prominent sceptics, of different types according to the taxonomy above, illustrates the problem: Dr. Patrick Michaels, who was a research professor in environmental science at the University of Virginia for 30 years, is currently a senior research fellow at the George Mason University. He has an academic background in climatology, and does not contend the basic science of global warming but argues the impacts will be minor or even beneficial. His links to the fossil fuel industry have been highlighted in the media.5 Dr. Michaels is illustrative of one type of climate skeptic often appearing in the media on both sides of the Atlantic who has strong links both with fossil fuel sources of funding and with a right-wing think tank whose position on climate change is consistent with an ideological opposition to regulation of the market. He is an example of „organised scepticism‟. In contrast stand the Canadian blogger Steve McIntyre and the British Lord, Christopher Monckton. McIntyre was one of the key 5
Dr. Michaels told CNN in an interview in August 2010 that „about 40 per cent‟ of his funding came from the fossil fuel industry. For a transcript the interview, see www.desmogblog.com/climate-skeptic-pat-michaels-admits-cnnforty-percent-his-funding-comes-oil-industry. 197
figures behind the „Climategate‟ episode which broke in late 2009, and raised questions about the conduct, but not the science, of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia in the UK. McIntyre has no apparent links with the fossil fuel industry or think tanks and no aggressively right-wing ideology, but seems to be more of an amateur sleuth. Lord Monckton has also published no peerreviewed scientific papers, but is known for his anti-communist ideology and activism in UK politics. Finally, Bjorn Lomborg has a very high profile in newspapers around the world, and is best known for questioning the need to rush into hugely expensive and rapid government responses to counter global warming. 6 These brief profiles clearly illustrate the considerable variation not only in what skeptics can be skeptical about, but also their sources of funding, their links (or lack of them) with organised climate scepticism, their motivations and their political ideology. However, it does seem important to distinguish between organised scepticism linked to well-funded bodies, and individual skeptic with no such links. But even then, the impact of individual skeptics in the media (for instance Lord Monckton in the Australian media) can be just as significant as the impact of individuals with strong financial and organisational support. Methodology We applied the basic four-type taxonomy of sceptics to our examination of the prevalence of different types of climate sceptic in 6
For a full discussion of Bjorn Lomborg, see Hoggan, Climate Cover-Up, 118ff.; Washington and Cook, Climate Change Denial, ch. 4; Christina Larson and Joshua Keating, „The FP Guide to Climate Skeptics‟, Foreign Policy, 26 Feb. 2010, and Michael Svoboda, „A Critical Review of Bjorn Lomborg‟s Cool It … and of Media “Complicity” in Climate Contrarianism‟, Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media, 12 May 2011.
the print media in six countries, namely Brazil, China, France, India, the United Kingdom and the USA. The periods monitored were three months in early 2007 to include the launch of the first two very influential IPCC reports that year (known as WG-1 and WG-2 AR4), and a second period of three months in late 2009/early 2010 to include „Climategate‟, the Copenhagen summit, the controversies surrounding errors in the IPCC reports, a cold winter in many parts of the northern hemisphere, and in the case of the UK, the formation of the sceptical lobby group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). The newspapers chosen for scrutiny were Folha de São Paulo and Estado de São Paulo in Brazil, People’s Daily and Beijing Evening News in China, Le Monde and Le Figaro in France, the Times of India andThe Hindu in India, the Guardian/Observer and the Daily/Sunday Telegraph in the UK, and the New York Times and Wall Street Journal in the USA. Where possible, we chose a left-leaning or liberal newspaper and right-leaning newspaper, although for obvious reasons this was not possible in the case of China. In most cases, we were only looking at the articles that appeared in the print versions of the newspapers, and did not include the online versions. This was to be regretted because the symbiotic relationship between new and old media prompts all sorts of questions, including whether new/social media provide more space for sceptic views to circulate and gain more traction than they might do if restricted to traditional newspapers. We included news reports, features, opinion or comment pieces, editorials, and reviews. The inclusion of opinion pieces and editorials was considered an essential corrective to the omission of such pieces from other academic studies, a practice which has been criticised as much of the sceptical sentiment can be found here rather than in the news reporting. (Ward, 2009) As part of the content analysis, we listed the names of individual sceptics where they were directly or indirectly quoted in the 199
news reports, and separately the names of those who authored sceptical opinion pieces as invited columnists or who were quoted or briefly described in the opinion pieces of regular columnists writing on the newspapers. A total was given for the number of times these sceptics appeared. These names were then assigned to different types of scepticism broadly along the four categories outlined above. Finally, we classified each of the named sceptics according to their main professional background or affiliation. There were nine categories: university scientist, an academic tied to university but not a scientist, a non-university-based research organisation, a think tank or lobbying group, an „amateur‟ scientist with no affiliation to the previous four options, a newspaper columnist or media personality, a politician or diplomat, the business sector, and „other‟. Some scholars are critical of an approach that assembles such taxonomy of the different forms of sceptics, and then uses it to trace the amount of media coverage such voices, individual or generic, achieve. For example, as Boykoff writes, „this approach risks under considering context and by excessively focusing on individual personalities at the expense of political, economic, social and cultural forces‟.7 However, including individual voices does have some advantages; firstly, the media often seek personalisation, dramatisation and authority as journalistic norms (Boykoff-Boykoff 2007), so measuring the presence of the „personalities‟ the media choose to quote in some ways reflects common journalistic practice; secondly, it is possible to include some of the contextualisation or socio-economic forces behind the personalities by both describing some of them and dividing them according to their professional background or affiliation; thirdly, measuring the presence of individual sceptical voices is a good indicator of how much presence –and therefore arguably traction and credibility– they acquired over
Boykoff, Who Speaks for the Climate, p. 161. 200
the periods in question; and finally, the focus of our content analysis was to bring out cross-country differences. The coding chosen does not undermine the validity of within country and cross-country comparisons as the same criteria were applied across all the sample articles. Research results The three main research aims of the content analysis were to map the differences in the amount of sceptical voices between the six countries chosen; to look at where the sceptical voices appeared most within each newspaper; and to examine any correspondence between the political perspective of a newspaper and the prevalence of sceptical voices. However, a number of subsidiary questions were addressed which highlighted the marked differences in the number and types of sceptical voices included in the print media in the six countries chosen. More than 3,000 newspaper articles were examined across the six countries. The UK had the most at 941, followed by Brazil (873) and India (649). This is not surprising given the high interest in the UK media in â€žClimategateâ€&#x;, which was partly due to the fact the University of East Anglia is situated in the UK. The high volume of coverage of global warming in the media in Brazil and India fits a general picture found in other surveys (Painter, 2010). As can be seen from Figure 1, when measured by the number of articles containing sceptical voices, there was a sharp contrast between the USA and the UK on the one hand, and the remaining four countries, particularly in the second period of study. Figure 2 represents the number of articles with mentions of sceptics as a percentage of the total number of articles covering climate change or global warming
Figure 1: The Number of Articles Containing Sceptical Voices in Six Countries, 2007 and 2009/10
Figure 2: The number of articles containing sceptical voices as a % of the total number of all the articles covering climate change, in the six countries.
This is a better measure of the prevalence of sceptics than counting the absolute numbers of articles, partly because we did not make any adjustment for the total news „hole‟ available for articles on climate change in each of the newspapers examined. In other words, The Hindu for example would have had far less space available (24–8 pages on a weekday) for articles about climate change than the New York Times (100 pages plus). The Brazilian and Indian newspapers have the lowest percentage of articles with climate sceptical voices within them, followed by France. The China figures, while still low, were relatively high in the period of sampling due to the low base. The two countries with the highest range were clearly the UK and the USA, which had the highest range of between 13 and 40% for the two newspapers sampled there. In general the UK and the US print media quoted or mentioned significantly more sceptical voices than the other four countries. Together they represented more than 80% of the times such voices were quoted across all six countries, suggesting that scepticism about climate change is to some extent an „Anglo-Saxon‟ or Englishspeaking phenomenon. Just counting the number of sceptical voices did not capture how they were quoted. However, we looked at whether the voices were left unchallenged in the editorial pages, including the opinion pieces. Usually, the left-leaning newspapers included sceptical voices in their opinion pieces or editorials to be refuted. The right-leaning Telegraph and Wall Street Journal had considerably more uncontested sceptical opinion pieces and/or editorials than the Guardian and the New York Times. The difference in the USA is particularly marked as the New York Times ran 10 editorials over the two periods, all of which were dismissive of sceptic arguments, whereas the Wall Street Journal ran 12, only one of which seemed to be dismissive. 203
44% of the articles where sceptical voices were included were to be found in the opinion pages and editorials as compared to the news pages. But the print media in Brazil, China, India, and France had many fewer such pieces than those in the UK and the USA. Together the eight newspapers there accounted for 34 such pieces in our sample (24% of the total). Which types of sceptics get quoted? Individual sceptics were mentioned or quoted 260 times in the articles surveyed. Again, they were far more present in the UK and US newspapers than in those in Brazil, China, France and India. Of the non-English-speaking countries, the Times of India had the most at 19, followed by Le Monde (12). But these figures contrast sharply with The Guardian (60), The Telegraph (48), The New York Times (19) and The Wall Street Journal (18), just in the second period of analysis. Of the 260 times sceptics were mentioned, 20 of them were „type 1‟ sceptics (outright deniers that global temperatures are warming) – most of these were quotes from, or descriptions of, the Republican senator in the USA, James Inhofe, who is known to have espoused this view. 164 of these were quotes or mentions from the type ii) sceptics who question the anthropogenic contribution (equivalent to 63%), more than twice the 73 (or 28%) from those who accept it is happening but for different reasons question its impacts or the need to do something about it. It was interesting to note that type (ii) sceptics were much more common in the print media in Brazil, China, India, and France, representing 45 out of the 51 times sceptics were quoted or mentioned, or 88%. In the Anglo-Saxon countries, for type (ii) sceptics, the percentage figure was lower (57%). Of the 73 times type (iii) sceptics were quoted or mentioned in all six countries, only 4 were in the non-Anglo-Saxon media. It was a particular phenomenon of the UK print media that sceptics from outside the country received 204
considerable attention, whereas in France, Brazil, India, and China it is the (reduced number of) sceptics in their own countries who are predominately quoted or given space. The largest category of sceptics was politicians or diplomats (88 times or 34%), followed by university climate scientists (55 or 21%) and „amateurs‟ (32 times or 12%). Next comes other academics (9%), lobby groups (8%), research groups (5%), columnists and other media (3%), business (3%), and other (3%). Another way of expressing this is that sceptical voices who were not scientists attached to a university represented nearly 80% of all the sceptical voices mentioned. The four newspapers in the USA and the UK accounted for 76 of the 88 times politicians were mentioned, equivalent to 86%. The two US newspapers accounted for 23 times and the UK 53 times, which were swollen by the high presence of Lord Lawson of the GWPF (23 times). It is interesting to note that, in the USA, politicians represented 35% of all sceptics, the largest category by some margin. They were also the largest category in the UK (37%). The Chinese newspapers quoted or mentioned no politicians, the Brazilians one (Joe Barton from the USA), the French two national (Claude Allègre and Jean-Marie Le Pen) and two foreign, and the Indians no national and four foreign. Indeed, of the seven sceptical voices of different types quoted in The Hindu over the two periods, all seven were international, while for The Times of India over the same period 16 out of the 19 were international. These figures corroborate a rather obvious point that journalists frequently use politicians as sources, and of course will quote them if they are there to be quoted. It is illustrative from a study of the December 2009 Copenhagen summit that politicians were by far the largest group quoted at the end of the summit 205
compared to NGOs and scientists.8 If there are no, or few, sceptical politicians to be quoted in India, Brazil and China, then of course it is highly likely that they will not figure much in journalists‟ coverage of climate change. Drivers The main conclusion of the content analysis that climate scepticism in its various forms is more an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon both in the media and wider society raises some obvious questions for further research, and in particular an examination of what are the main drivers behind it. For some, the presence or absence of climate sceptic voices is best explained by the presence or absence of a fossil fuel lobby. Prima facie, there is plenty of empirical evidence to suggest that this would be a major factor in explaining its prevalence in the USA. But is it the main explanatory factor in the UK or Australia? In the UK at least, major oil and gas companies like BP and Shell are, as far as we know, not funding lobby groups. The GWPF does not publish its funders, but it would be surprising if these were found to be corporate interests rather than rich individuals. A more nuanced approach would be to argue that outcomes are driven by a complex mix of processes within newspapers (such as political ideology, journalistic practices, editorial culture, or the influence of editors and proprietors) and external societal forces – political, cultural, economic: (in particular the presence of sceptical political parties, the power of sceptical lobbying groups, the public profile of sceptical scientists, a country‟s energy matrix, the presence of web-based scepticism, or even a country‟s direct experience of a changing climate). 8
James Painter, Summoned by Science: Reporting Climate Change at Copenhagen and Beyond, Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 2010, p 43.
In India for example, it is probably instructive to examine several factors in explaining the relative absence of climate scepticism: the absence of business-linked interest groups or strong right-wing think tanks; the presence of strong NGOs; the dominant framing of climate change in the media as a nationalistic „us-versusthem‟ narrative; and the paucity of climate sceptical scientists in India or indeed, throughout all South Asia. Likewise, in the case of Brazil, a country where there is significant coverage of climate change and high levels of public concern, it may be fruitful to examine the journalistic culture of having strong science units within newspapers, such as the one at Folha de Sao Paulo; the absence of interest group lobbying; the state sector‟s ownership of the oil sector; an energy matrix which depends on hydro-electricity and bio fuels; the reduced presence of strongly sceptical voices in the elite scientific, political, and business community; and a country with a strong direct experience of a changing climate and the Amazon on its doorstep. In the USA, climate scepticism obviously forms a very significant part of the ideology of one of the two main political parties, the Republicans, but there are reasons to view it as another example of „USA exceptionalism‟. Four factors are worth examining: The historical trajectory of climate scepticism in the USA is linked to other scientific issues beyond climate science. The US scholars Oreskes and Conway have mapped the way in which starting at the end of the 1970s a small number of scientists, some linked to the conservative George C. Marshall Institute in Washington, joined up with US think thanks and private corporations to challenge scientific evidence on a host of contemporary issues, including the link between smoking and cancer. (Oreskes-Conway, 2010)
Much of the momentum behind climate scepticism in the USA comes from conservative think tanks, a practice which is not as prevalent in other countries. Some of their funding comes from fossil fuel companies. According to leaked documents quoted in a February 2012 article in the Guardian, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, which is at the forefront of discrediting established climate science, raises several million dollars a year from wealthy individuals such as the Koch brothers who are oil billionaires.9 The documents suggest that 2012 was expected to be a bumper year, with funding expected to rise by 70% in 2012, to US$7.7 million. The climate blogosphere is probably more active in the USA (and Canada) than in other countries, with sites such as Climate Audit and WattsUpWiththat.com. Some of this is probably strongly motivated by political ideology, but much of it is driven in part by a desire to pick holes in some aspect of the mainstream science. The funding of politicians by industry groups and the pervasive practice and power of lobbying are common in other countries but the extent of them is probably unique to American political culture. To quote just one statistic, according to the Center for Public Integrity, the number of climate lobbyists (on both sides of the debate) had increased to 2,340 in 2009 – an increase of 300% over the previous five years. This meant Washington had more than four climate lobbyists for every member of Congress.10
Suzanne Goldenberg, „Leak exposes how Heartland Institute works to undermine climate science‟, The Guardian, 15 February 2012, available at 10
In the UK the presence of a semi-campaigning, ideologically-driven tabloid press is hugely significant. In contrast there is no real tabloid press in France, China, India, and Brazil. An examination of nearly 3,000 articles in the ten UK national newspapers over the same two periods as in the study of the international press showed that much of the scepticism was found in the right-wing tabloid press. For example, in the three-month period of 2009/10, two right-wing newspapers with a combined daily circulation of 2.7m (the Express and the Mail), showed a very high percentage of articles with sceptical voices within them: in the Express 50% of all the articles in both the news and opinion pages included sceptical voices, whilst the figure for the Mail was 48%. The Express in particular stood out: in the post-â€žClimategateâ€&#x; period, it had the highest percentage of all ten national UK newspapers for articles which included sceptical voices, the highest number of sceptical voices included in its news reporting (more than any broadsheet), the highest number of direct quotes from sceptics, the highest number of editorials questioning the mainstream consensus, and the highest number of sceptical opinion pieces of any tabloid. Again it would be tempting to think that this was as a result of the dominant political ideology of the newspapers, and this clearly plays a strong role. However, all sorts of factors other than political orientation impinge on why, how, and where newspapers and journalists decide to include sceptical voices. In interviews with editors and journalists (or former correspondents) from seven of the ten UK newspapers included in the survey, different interviewees offered very different perceptions of what shaped their, and their newspapersâ€&#x;, decisions on the inclusion of sceptics. These ranged from the strong influence of a newspaper editor (in the case of the Express and Financial Times), the views of the proprietor (the Sun), a heightened awareness of the views and profile of their readers (the 209
Sun, Express), the popularity of columnists (the Sun), the relevance of sceptics to the particular story they were covering (nearly all of them), to the overarching ideological position of the paper (Guardian, Mirror, and Independent). Finally, media ownership is of course a central driver of journalistic outcomes. But again, a nuanced picture emerges. It is a commonly-held view that the Murdoch-owned media around the world are involved in a conscious campaign to discredit climate science and dismiss those who are concerned about it. As the Climate Progress blog wrote in January 2012, „The entire global Murdoch enterprise is designed to advance the pollutocrat do-nothing agenda‟.11It is clear that the Murdoch-owned Fox News and Wall Street Journal in the USA give plenty of air time and column inches to different types of climate sceptic voices. In Australia recent studies suggest that Murdoch-owned media (which represent 70% of the country‟s print media including the Australian (national), Telegraph (Sydney), and Herald Sun (Melbourne) has a similar agenda. (McKnight 2011, Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, 2011) However, the Murdoch-owned The Sun and The Times in the UK are clearly right-leaning, but by some of the measures used in our content analysis they are more akin to left-leaning newspapers than right-leaning in the prevalence they give to sceptical voices. This clearly marks them out from the media coverage of other parts of the Murdoch media empire in Australia and the USA. This may be partly a result of the influence of James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, who has studied environmental sciences, and took over the papers in 11
Panic Attack: Murdoch‟s Wall Street Journal Finds 16 Scientists to Push Pollutocrat Agenda With Long-Debunked Climate Lies‟, Climate Progress, 29 January 2012, available at http://thinkprogress.org/wpcontent/uploads/2012/01/decadal.gif 210
2007 and appointed the papers‟ first environment editors. But other factors clearly come into play such as the presence of experienced science/environment editors or correspondents, a clear distinction between opinion and news pages, the papers‟ readership profile and where their ideology stands within the spectrum of right-wing opinion. We would also agree with those scholars who stress the difference between the news pages and reporting on the one hand, and the editorials and opinion pieces on the other. As David McKnight has found, „newspapers and television stations owned by News Corporation, based on their editorials, columnists and commentators(my emphasis), largely denied the science of climate change and dismissed those who were concerned about it‟. 12 Likewise, in the Sun in the UK, it is mostly in the columns of commentators like Jeremy Clarkson and Kelvin MacKenzie where climate-sceptic sentiments are most forcefully expressed.13 In conclusion, there is considerable evidence from our content analysis to support the view that climate scepticism in its different forms is primarily a phenomenon of the English-speaking world. More research would be needed to examine if this is the case in Canada and New Zealand, and also to examine why it is absent in most countries of continental Europe and the developing world. Norway and some countries in Central Eastern Europe like the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland are important exceptions and need to be studied further. Norway for example is interesting because of the
David McKnight, „A Change in the Climate?‟ Journalism, 11/6 (2010), 693.
James Painter, „Poles Apart’, pp. 97 ff. 211
presence of a large political party, the right-wing Progress Party, which espouses climate scepticism.14 Our preliminary conclusion as to why it appears to be a predominately Anglo-Saxon phenomenon is that out of the wide range of factors that could explain it, the presence of politicians espousing some variation of climate scepticism, the existence of organised interests that informs sceptical coverage, and partisan media receptive to this message all play a particularly significant role.
On 31 January 2010, the Progress Party leader Siv Jensen was emboldened to criticise the IPCC in an article in the leading newspaper Aftenposten under the headline â€žNo More Talk about Global Warmingâ€&#x;.
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Catherine Butler and Nick Pidgeon, „Media Communications and Public Understanding of Climate Change‟, in Tammy Boyce and Justin Lewis (eds), Climate Change and the Media (2009). Anabela Carvalho, „Ideological Cultures and Media Discourses on Scientific Knowledge: Re-Reading News on Climate Change‟, Public Understanding of Science, 16 (2007), 223–43. P. Chubb and C. Nash, „The Politics of Reporting Climate Change at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation‟, paper presented at ECREA, Hamburg, October 2010. Riley E. Dunlap and Aaron M. McCright, „Climate Change Denial: Sources, Actors and Strategies‟, in Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society (London: Routledge, 2010), ch. 14. -----, „Organised Climate Change Denial‟, in Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). Lauren Feldman, Edward W. Maibach, Connie Roser-Renouf and Anthony Leiserowitz, „Climate on Cable: The Nature and 214
Impact of Global Warming Coverage on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC‟, The International Journal of Press/Politics , published online 2 November 2011. Neil Gavin and Tom Marshall, „Mediated Climate Change in Britain: Scepticism on the Web and on Television around Copenhagen‟, Global Environmental Change, 21 (2011), 1035–44. Al Gore, „Climate of Denial‟, Rolling Stone, 22 June 2011. Greenpeace, Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Industry and Climate Science (Amsterdam: Greenpeace International, 2010). James Hoggan, Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming (Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2009). Mike Hulme, Why we Disagree about Climate Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). David Karoly, Ian Enting and others, „Clearing up the Climate Debate: The false, the confused and the mendacious: how the media gets it wrong on climate change‟, The Conversation, University of Western Australia and others, 24 June 2011, available at http://theconversation.edu.au/the-false-theconfused-and-the-mendacious-how-the-media-gets-it-wrongon-climate-change-1558 Aaron M. McCright and Riley E. Dunlap, „The Politicization of Climate Change and Polarization in the American Public's Views of Global Warming, 2001–2010‟, Sociological Quarterly, 52/2 (2011), 155–94. -----, „Defeating Kyoto: The Conservative Movement‟s impact on U.S. climate change policy‟, Social Problems 50: 348-73 (2003) David McKnight, „A Change in the Climate?‟, Journalism, 11/6 (2010), 693. 215
George Monbiot, Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning (London: Penguin, 2006). Matthew Nisbet, „Climate Shift: Clear Vision for the Next Decade of Public Debate‟, American University School of Communication, 2011. Saffron J. O‟Neill and Max Boykoff, „Climate denier, skeptic, or contrarian?‟, Letter to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 107/39 (2010). Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, The Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured theTruth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010). James Painter, Summoned by Science: Reporting Climate Change at Copenhagen and Beyond (Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 2010). -----, Poles Apart: the international reporting of climate scepticism, (Oxford: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 2011). Fred Pearce, The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth about Global Warming (London: Guardian Books, 2010). Eric Pooley, The Climate War: true believers, power brokers, and the fight to save the earth, New York, Hyperion, 2010 Joe Romm, „The New York Times Abandons the Story of the Century and Joins the Energy and Climate Ignorati‟, Climate Progress, 28 October 2011, available at http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/10/26/354437/thenew-york-times-abandons-the-story-of-the-century-and-joinsthe-energy-and-climate-ignorati
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Climate change, the media and the knowledge-inaction paradox Anabela Carvalho Introduction
HE HISTORICAL era in which we live has been designated as the Anthropocene such is the degree of human intervention on the planet. At a time when the world population has reached 7 billion, we are witnessing a rapid environmental degradation, as suggested by indicators of biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, water scarcity and distribution of pollutants. As a systemic and multi-dimensional problem, climate change stands as a strong symbol of human impact on the environment. Scientific research has shown unambiguously both the anthropogenic nature and the severity of the problem (e.g., IPCC, 2007a), and several recent studies suggest that its impacts could be more devastating than what is indicated by the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with the possibility of approaching irreversible â€žtipping pointsâ€&#x; (e.g. Hansen, 219
2007; Kiehl, 2011; Shakhova et al., 2010). While the likelihood of large-scale negative impacts of climate change continues to rise and consensus increases around this, various social forces, and policymakers in particular, continue to stall effective transformations to abate GHG emissions. The starting point for this chapter is the realization that while there are increasing signs that climate change presents enormous threats to life as we know it very little is (or has been) done about it. For a number of years, there has been a significantly high level of awareness around the world regarding the fact that we are faced with a series of environmental problems. Most people consider that climate change is the most serious of those (e.g. BBC/PIPA/GlobeScan, 2007; European Commission, 2011). Tackling climate change would require fundamental transformations and substantial cuts in modes of energy generation and use. It is known that this transition should begin as soon as possible to avoid the worst impacts of the enhanced greenhouse effect. However, despite the increasing availability of information, the world has not been making progress towards putting in place effective responses to climate change. How do we reconcile awareness of the problem with acceptance of the system of social, economic and political practices and relations that generate that problem? This chapter aims to contribute to understanding this knowledge-inaction paradoxby focusing on the media, a privileged space for negotiation of the meaning of social problems, and examining the extent to which the media may contribute to political immobilism and the continuation of businessas-usual. Notwithstanding (occasional) earlier references to the issue, climate change has been under the media spotlight in many countries since the late 1980s (cf. Carvalho and Burgess, 2005; Carvalho et al., 2011; Mazur, 1998). This prolonged mediatization has certainly influenced social representations of climate change and of climate 220
change politics. Contributing to understand the ways in which the media have socially constructed climate change and the implications this may have for the choices that are (to be) made is an important goal for communication scholars. In this chapter, I argue that mainstream media discourses have generated a symbolic terrain that promotes inaction, reinforcing the current socio-economic-political system and the habitual practices of energy use and GHG emissions. Three themes will be analyzed: remaining denialism towards the scientific consensus (i.e., the continuous expression of skepticism and the organized rejection of the growing scientific consensus regarding the need to act on climate change); alarming climate change and alarmist - optimistic media discourses (i.e. the media-created image of climate change being split between over-dramatization and unfounded optimistic); and the hegemony of techno-managerial practices and of sustainable development discourses (i.e. the prevalence of technical and managerial „solutions‟ to climate change and of ambiguous discourses on sustainable development). All these aspects shed light on the knowledge-inaction paradox that has been referred above and the roles of the media. Remaining denialism towards the scientific consensus In its latest Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) maintained that „warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level.‟ (2007a: 2). In reviewing the research conducted on climate change in multiple scientific disciplines, the IPCC regularly produces a summary of the state of scientific knowledge, which is carefully examined and thoroughly discussed until it meets the approval of representatives of all participating governments. Reflecting the accumulation of knowledge over the last three decades, with each Assessment Report, 221
the IPCC has offered a graver image of climate change infused of a growing degree of certainty. The First IPCC Assessment Report (1990: 2) claimed that „[n]atural terrestrial ecosystems could face significant consequences as a result of the global increases in the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and the associated climatic changes‟ (my emphasis). It employed a similarly cautious language regarding impacts on oceans and coastal zones, human settlements and several other domains. Since then, the IPCC has successively increased its confidence in the detection of impacts of climate change. In the Fourth Assessment Report, it stated that it had high to very high confidence of significant impacts of climate change on natural systems, hydrological systems and biological systems (IPCC, 2007b). High confidence is defined as „about 8 out of 10 chance of being correct‟ and very high confidence as „at least 9 out of 10 chance‟ (p. 21). Anthropogenic contribution to climate change has also been asserted in increasingly certain terms. The Second Assessment Report asserted in 1996 that the „balance of evidence suggest[ed] a discernible human influence on global climate.‟ (IPCC, 1996: 4) The latest Assessment Report maintains that „most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.‟ (IPCC, 2007a: 5) (emphasis in original). In this document, „very likely‟ refers to a „>90% probability of occurrence‟ (p.3) of an outcome or result. Moreover, based on thousands of data series and increasingly sophisticated scenarios, the IPCC has successively raised the upper limits of projected warming in the 21st century, which is 6.4 °C in the Fourth Assessment Report. There are other indications of a significant consensus on climate change and anthropogenic warming. In a well-known review published in 2004, Naomi Oreskes analyzed the abstracts of 928 222
articles on climate change published in refereed scientific journals and found that none contradicted the claims of the IPCC on anthropogenic climate change. Moreover, Oreskes stated that „all major scientific bodies in the United States whose members‟ expertise bears directly on the matter have issued similar statements‟ to those of the IPCC (2004: 1686). Against this background, mainstream media in several countries have created a picture of divisiveness and contention in the scientific community regarding anthropogenic climate change. This is the case of the USA, Australia and the United Kingdom (e.g. Boykoff and Boykoff, 2004; McKewon, 2012; Carvalho, 2007), all of which have important contributions to the global greenhouse effect. Probably the most important case, given its contribution to global GHG emissions, the United States‟ media have repeatedly been shown to overrepresent the claims of the so-called „skeptics‟, who argue that climate change is not taking place or that it is due to natural factors. Climate „skeptics‟, often also called „denialists‟ or „contrarians‟, tend to have no relevant professional credentials nor produce research that is recognized as valid by the scientific community. However, Antilla (2005) found that both US newspapers and news wire services, such as the Associated Press, gave them a large visibility. News wires have a key role in propagating ways of reporting across all types of news media, which adds to the seriousness of these findings. In a widely cited study, Boykoff and Boykoff (2004: 129) showed that in 52,65% of stories in the US prestige press between 1988-2002 „balanced accounts prevailed; these accounts gave „„roughly equal attention‟‟ to the view that humans were contributing to global warming, and the other view that exclusively natural fluctuations could explain the earth‟s temperature increase.‟ Boykoff (2008) found that over the period 1995-2004 the same trend was present in 70% of US television news segments across four of the most watched networks. These researchers claimed that this was due to journalists following the 223
professional norm of balance in reporting. In this case, balance meant bias as it significantly deviated from the scientific consensus. In another study, Boykoff and Boykoff (2007) argued that the weight of skepticism in the US media was also due other journalistic norms, such as dramatization, personalization and novelty, that pushed journalists to award a disproportionate attention to „skeptics‟. Several studies have looked at factors that are external to the media and pointed to an extraordinary pro-activity of social actors that are hostile to climate policy in attempting to shape the public debate. McCright and Dunlap (2000; 2003) have described the ways in which conservative institutions promote doubt on climate change through policy studies, books, press releases, opinion-editorial essays, and advertisements. Numerous conservative think tanks have aligned with climate skeptics, often affiliated with the fossil fuel industry, to block the passage of any significant climate policy. Skeptical books were the focus of a study by Jacques, Dunlap and Freeman (2008): they showed that 92 per cent of those books published in the USA since 1992 were linked to conservative think tanks, which overwhelmingly espoused environmental skepticism. They concluded that these think tanks have contributed to weaken the US commitment to environmental protection. Oreskes and Conway (2010) compared denialism of climate change with the long campaigns carried out by industry to spread doubt and confusion regarding research that linked smoking to lung cancer, coal to acid rain and chlorofluorocarbons to stratospheric ozone depletion. By undermining public confidence in the scientific consensus and „keeping the controversy alive‟ business interests and conservative think tanks succeeded, with the compliance of the mainstream media, to stall action for a long time. In Australia, research has also shown that climate skeptics tend to get their claims extensively reproduced in the media (e.g. McKewon, 2012). In some cases, the distortion in the representation 224
of scientific knowledge reaches extreme levels as in the case of The Australian newspaper where, of 880 items published between 2004 and 2011, 700 items rejected the scientific consensus and the need for action on climate change (Manne, 2011 cit. by McKewon, 2012). McKewon (2012) has shown how a neoliberal think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which is strongly opposed to action on climate change, has acted as a powerful news source in Australia. This think tank conducts various activities aimed at the media, including publishing op-ed comments in the press, inviting journalists and editors to its lectures and seminars, and publishing books and a magazine. The analysis of articles from the IPA magazine and op-eds published in Australian newspapers by IPA staff, together with the analysis of newspaper editorials and opinion columns that gave positive coverage to a well-known Australian skeptic, indicates that conservative media very often offer a stage for IPA‟s „fantasy themes‟, such as the notion that the environmental movement is a new form of religion that is intolerant and irrational. In the USA or Australia not all the media followed the dominant trends described above. As McKewon (2012: 3) notes, the ideology espoused by each news organ is often a differentiating factor in discourses on climate change with denialism typically coming from those that „promote core values of the political Right - free market capitalism, anti-socialism, privatisation, small government and deregulation‟ including „opposition to industry oversight and environmental regulations‟. In an extensive study of the British press, I have argued that the representation of scientific knowledge has been shaped by ideological cultures, i.e. shared values and worldviews that were dominant in different newsrooms (Carvalho, 2007). I found that the aspects of scientific progress that were selected for news reports, the kind of readings of climate change that they came to support, how forecasts were interpreted, and how uncertainty was represented were all associated with the ideological positions of newspapers. 225
Hence, while the Guardian and the Independent most of the time promoted the reliability of research that showed that climate change was taking place, the Times,which espouses a conservative ideology, often used uncertainty or disagreement to undermine the authority of science, to discursively dismiss the risks associated to climate change and, thereby, to de-legitimise or refute political actions that might alter the economic and lifestyle status quo (especially during the 1990s). The ideological divide in the British press has been recently confirmed in Painterâ€&#x;s (2011) extensive study. Focusing on public views, Whitmarsh (2009) in turn reported strong variations in climate skepticism between voters in different British parties: Conservative, Liberal Democrats, Labour and Green in decreasing order. Ideological factors are also at play in the USA where there is an association between political-ideological standings of citizens and concern for climate change (Zia and Todd, 2010), as well as a growing gap between Republicans and Democrats regarding the belief that the seriousness of climate change is exaggerated in the news (Dunlap and McCright, 2008). Feldman et al. (2012) compared climate change coverage in Fox News, CNN and MSNBC and found that in the first network doubters were more frequently interviewed than believers. They cite survey data that shows that Fox viewership is negatively associated with acceptance of climate change. Significantly, Republicans are more susceptible than Democrats to influence by television coverage of climate change, independent of how well a channel aligns with their views. This has a positive implication for the possibility of consensus-building as â€žat least some Republicans, who as a group tend to be predisposed toward global warming skepticism, are less skeptical when exposed to information on the reality and urgency of climate change.â€&#x; (p. 24) It is also positive to notice that, just as there are important differences between media, so there are between countries. For instance, in Germany (Peters and Heinrichs, 2008), Portugal 226
(Carvalho et al., 2011), France, India, China and Brazil (Painter, 2011) skeptical views occupy very little media space. It is likely that a combination of socio-cultural, political and media-related factors (Painter, 2011) contribute to these international differences. Nevertheless, the fact that skepticism continues to imprint a large part of the media depictions in the countries examined in this section –United States, United Kingdom and Australia, all of which are key to the international politics of climate change– is likely to impede or slow down the adoption of effective responses to climate change. The confusion that results from this persistent denialism is well exemplified in the results of a US survey conducted in 2007. People were asked „what comes closer to your own view - most scientists think global warming is happening, (or) most scientists think global warming is not happening, or there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening, or do you not know enough to say?‟. Only 3% said „it is not happening‟ and 48% said „it is happening‟. Most significantly, however, at a time when the IPCC had announced the conclusions presented above, 40% of the US public answered „there is a lot of disagreement‟ (Yale, Gallup, ClearVision Institute, 2007). Alarming climate change and alarmist - optimistic media discourses Climate change is a domain where forecasting is crucial. Unlike other domains where what matters is knowing how things are, in climate change it is essential to have an idea of how things will be. Futurology necessarily involves a degree of uncertainty. This has opened the way to very different media representations of the future. In their analysis of the British press, Ereaut and Segnit (2006) found that there were two dominant „linguistic repertoires‟ – an alarmist one and an optimistic one. The alarmist repertoire suggested that the world is inevitably lost due to climate change and that it is too late to do anything. The logical consequence is that we should just continue 227
with life-as-we-know-it and all the usual GHG emitting practices. The optimistic repertoire has two main variations. The first one promises that everything will be fine without any need to act, either because climate change claims are false, because the free market will solve climate change or because of some similarly „passive‟ way of getting out of the problem. The second variation points to a happy ending if we act on climate change and suggests that technological options, small corporate actions or small behavioral changes can deliver the solution to climate change. Although Ereaut and Segnit‟s (2006) proposal is simplistic, it calls attention to two opposing tendencies that can be found in the media. On the one hand, the media often disseminate optimistic views of climate change. Many –although by no means all– are linked to the denialist discourses discussed above that reject the scientific grounds for acting on climate change. On the other hand, there is an over-dramatization of climate change (and especially of its impacts) in many media reports. By over-dramatization I mean the depiction of extreme impacts of climate change as inevitable (when in fact we are talking about forecasts and there is a possibility that those impacts do not materialize if concerted mitigating action is put in place) and a distortion of the temporal scale (making extreme impacts seem much closer in time than what is likely to happen). Although the IPCC scenarios point to a global mean temperature rise of up to 6.4 C, such level and the worst impacts of climate change can still be avoided if aggressive mitigation measures are implemented; moreover, those impacts are not likely to occur in the next few years but in the space of several decades. Media representations of climate change often suggest that we are faced with an eminent catastrophe and that there is nothing that can be done about it.
„The alarmist repertoire is typified by an inflated or extreme lexicon. It incorporates an urgent tone („we have to act. Now. Today!‟) and cinematic codes, with images and ways of speaking that are familiar from horror and disaster films („astonishing scenes that might have come straight from Hollywood‟ (Catt 2005). It employs a quasi-religious register of doom, death, judgement, heaven and hell, using words such as „catastrophe‟, „chaos‟ and „havoc‟. It uses a language of acceleration, increase, intractability, irreversibility and momentum („temperatures shot up‟, „process of change… surged ahead‟, „a tipping point beyond which break-up is explosively rapid‟ (Leake and Milne 2006)). It allows for no complexity or middle ground –it is simply extreme.‟ (Ereaut and Segnit, 2006: 13) Some have referred to these kinds of media reports as „climate porn‟ (Lowe, 2006; Hulme, 2009). They have an important position in the media-constructed images that circulate in various societies. Weingart et al. (2000) traced the evolution of meanings of climate change in Germany for two decades and pointed out that the term „climate catastrophe‟ originated in the mid-1980s; it was first disseminated by Der Spiegel magazine and had an extensive influence on discourses on climate change. Doulton and Brown (2009) examined the British coverage of climate change and development and found that it was clearly dominated by a discourse of „potential catastrophe‟, with developing countries appearing „defenceless without the help of the West‟ (p. 191). In the USA, Foust and Murphy (2009) also found ample evidence of an „apocalyptic‟ portrait of climate change (we will return to their analysis further down in this chapter). Alarmist discourses are likely to have important implications for public understanding of and engagement with climate change. Studies 229
in the US, the UK and other countries have shown that the dominant imagery that people associate with climate change includes things such as melting ice caps, storms, floods, heat waves and other impacts that they classify as negative or very negative (Leiserowitz, 2005; Lorenzoni et al., 2006). In free word association exercises conducted in Portugal, people predominantly referred to notions of pollution, destruction, diseases, droughts and forest fires, as well as to the issues mentioned for the other countries (Cabecinhas, Lázaro and Carvalho, 2006; 2008). There were no mentions of things that people can do to address climate change, such as cycling, installing solar panels or turning down the heating. This was interpreted as meaning that people view themselves as (potential) victims of climate change but not as agents of resolution of the problem. Perceived lack of agency was also identified in another study in association with common visual representations of climate change such as polar bears, industrial smoke stacks, flooded areas, and starving children and dried up lakes with dead fish (O‟Neill and Nicholson-Cole, 2009). While these are often chosen by the media to convey the gravity of climate change, they were amongst the images that participants said made them feel least able to do something about climate change. Still, participants considered that those images (with the exception of polar bears) were the ones that made climate change feel the most important to them. In contrast, participants said that images of a low energy light bulb, a cyclist and a thermostat were the ones that made them feel most able to act. O‟Neill and Nicholson-Cole (2009) conclude that: „dramatic, sensational, fearful, shocking, and other climate change representations of a similar ilk can successfully capture people‟s attention to the issue of climate change and drive a general sense of the importance of the issue. However, they are also likely to distance or disengage individuals from climate 230
change, tending to render them feeling helpless and overwhelmed when they try to comprehend their own relationship with the issue‟ (p. 375) They make the case against using „fear appeals‟ because of the difficulties of sustaining fear in the long term; the fact that individuals may become desensitized to fear appeals; that fear may damage trust in the communicating organization; and that fear appeals may generate unintended consequences, such as denial or apathy. Hulme (2008) has also spoken of a „discourse of fear‟ associated with the idea of „climate as catastrophe‟ and has argued that this kind of media coverage may be counterproductive for involving the public (2007). Moser and Dilling (2007) make similar arguments. Swyngedouw (2010) takes the implications of this form of depicting climate change further: by being presented in apocalyptic terms and reduced to a problem of CO2 emissions, he argues, climate change has given rise to a hegemonic populist proposal that promises solutions within the structures of capitalism and the market economy. In this reading, alarmist discourses create favourable conditions for the emergence of optimistic discourses centered on the promises of a „green economy‟. As discussed in the next section, this helps the reproduction of the economic-political system. One variety of optimistic discourses is centered on high-tech solutions such as geoengineering. These can also gain symbolic value due to apocalyptic visions of climate-altered futures: these `ultimate solutions‟ (…) are enlivened by the dramatizations of apocalyptic futures in which the only way to act seems to be to adopt spectacular techniques of/for control.‟ (de Goede and Randalls, 2009: 871). Journalistic norms may play a role in the construction of alarmist images of climate change. Dramatization, for instance, is a known tendency in news making as a way of appealing to audiences (Boykoff and Boykoff, 2007); moreover, the media tend to look for 231
certainty rather than „fuzzy‟ probabilities and often overemphasize that certainty (e.g. Smith, 2005). However, this kind of discourse also stems from other sources, such as non-governmental organizations and official agencies whose campaigns often overdramatize climate forecasts. Therefore, they are quite widespread and keep being promoted by different social actors. The research perspectives discussed above suggest that these alarmist messages are not conducive to action on climate change, something that the optimistic discourses do not require either, therefore keeping us stuck in the knowledge-inaction paradox. One important question is whether all apocalyptic images of climate-altered futures should be abandoned. Several researchers argue in favour of investing on forms of communication that work as motivators of the public using meaningful, locally relevant and empowering symbols instead (e.g. O‟Neill and Nicholson-Cole, 2009; O‟Neill and Hulme, 2009). Others postulate that the dangers that climate change may bring onto the planet should be kept in citizens‟ sight. Based on existing scientific knowledge, Risbey (2008) maintains that there are grounds for alarming (rather than alarmist) discourses that point to the seriousness of the problem but also to possibilities of action. While noting that the „apocalyptic tone of climate change rhetoric may not only encourage a feeling of despair in the face of impending disaster, but also contributes to skeptics‟ ability to discredit climate scientists as alarmists‟, Foust and Murphy (2009: 154) also remark that „environmental advocates like Rachel Carson have successfully relied upon dire predictions of the world‟s end to provoke necessary action‟. They identify two variations of the apocalyptic frame: „a tragic apocalypse, characterized by „„resignation‟‟ (Burke, 1984, p. 37) to a foretold ending; and a comic apocalypse, discernible through its more forgiving outlook on humanity „„not as vicious, but mistaken‟‟ (Burke, 1984, p. 41).‟ The two frames differ in their constructions of agency, temporality, and telos. While in tragic 232
apocalypse, a catastrophic telos is unavoidable and outside of the scope of human agency, in the comic perspective humans are responsible for a course of action and can influence their future, which is more open-ended than in the tragic version. Foust and Murphy (2009) recommend that communication on climate change employ this second frame and is directed towards promoting human agency for correcting a mistaken path that leads to disaster. Hegemony of techno-managerial practices and of Sustainable Development discourses In the discourses that circulate in the public sphere –and particularly in mainstream media– climate change has recurrently been viewed through a techno-managerial lens, that is, as an issue that is amenable to technical solutions and management options. In many political and media discourses there appears to be a belief in science-based technofixes that would „solve‟ climate change and allow for the maintenance of current lifestyles and forms of consumption. We are „sold‟ fuel cells, solar-powered planes or mega-projects for wind energy, and told that these technological innovations will disseminate rapidly and substitute old forms of energy production and use, thereby creating a new „low carbon world‟ (cf. Nerlich, 2012) where climate change is no longer a problem. In these discourses, the „market‟ is offered as the key for the uptake of those solutions: sates can play a role in initiating the process of dissemination of technological innovations through financial and fiscal stimuli but it will be the free market who will determine their success or failure. With appropriate regulatory measures and other instruments for controlling emissions and managing climate change, we are told, climate change can be prevented and continuous economic growth can be promoted. The primacy of the economy has marked international climate politics since its inception. It is in fact inscribed in the founding document, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate 233
Change (UNFCCC), which states that its aim is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere „within a time-frame sufficient to (…) enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner‟ (my emphasis). However, the main drive for the development of market-based approaches to climate change was the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997. The Protocol created the socalled „flexibility mechanisms‟, namely Emissions Trading (the possibility of selling and buying GHG emissions quotas), the Clean Development Mechanism (which refers to emission-reduction projects in developing countries carried out by countries committed to reduce or control their emissions) and Joint Implementation (which refers to emission-reduction projects in other countries committed to reducing or controlling emissions). These are marketbased forms of managing a country‟s GHG emissions. Kyoto‟s „flexibility mechanisms‟ have opened the way to financial speculation and inappropriate implementation, and their efficacy has been severely criticized by several non-governmental organizations and other analysts. Yet, the language that is found in most public discourses still privileges market-based solutions. In the last few years, the main focus has been on the notion of „green growth‟, an idea strongly promoted by political leaders and international agencies. „Green growth‟ advances a new economic optimism that suggests the possibility of large financial gains from investments in „environmentally-friendly‟ areas, such as renewable energies. This fits in with a discourse that has been labelled as Ecological Modernization and that draws on the discourse of Sustainable Development, both of which are discussed below. Sustainable Development, explicitly inscribed in the UNFCCC, became the default option in mainstream „greenspeak‟ (Harré, Brockmeier and Mühlhäusler, 1999) in the last couple of decades. As formulated by the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987), the discourse of Sustainable Development 234
advocated balancing three aspects: environmental protection, economic growth and social justice. However, as the notion of Sustainable Development spread and came to be employed by many different social actors in many different contexts, its original meaning was often diluted and it acquired a variety of nuances: ecologically sustainable, socially sustainable, economically sustainable, sustained economic growth, etc. Oels (2011: 8) has argued that in the last few years Sustainable Development has been „redefined as „climateproofing‟ economic development‟. In short, Sustainable Development became a rather ambiguous concept. It has been widely used by well-meaning progressive organizations but it has also often been used to „greenwash‟ (Greer and Bruno, 1996) the image of faulty corporations and by everyone else between these two extremes. Ambiguity is in fact part of the strength of the notion of Sustainable Development as consensus thrives in relation to ambiguous, openended ideas. Ecological Modernisation, a variant of Sustainable Development, converts environmental problems into economic opportunities. As Hajer (1996: 249) puts it: Ecological Modernisation „makes the „ecological deficiency‟ of industrial society into the driving force for a new round of industrial innovation. (...) Remedying environmental damage is seen as a „positive sum game‟: environmental damage is not an impediment for growth; quite the contrary, it is the new impetus for growth.‟ Science and technology are presented as the source of solutions to „fix‟ the environment while providing economic gains. This is a highly attractive prospect and it is not surprising that „consensual‟ Sustainable Development and Ecological Modernisation have become hegemonic. Together with Luke (1995), I have previously argued that these ideas have a disciplinary rolein relation to more radical forms of environmental discourse and mobilization: because they are integrative and conciliatory, these discourses annihilate any possibility of opposition 235
(Carvalho, 2005). In Swyngedouw‟s words (2010: 228): „the sustainability argument has evacuated the politics of the possible, the radical contestation of alternative future socio-environmental possibilities and socio-natural arrangements, and has silenced the antagonisms and conflicts that are constitutive of our socio-natural orders by externalizing conflict.‟ Most media have strengthened the discourses of Sustainable Development and Ecological Modernisation as they naturalize and neutralize them. Any discussion about the viability of the promises of those discourses or of alternative ways of framing responses to climate change, including decreases in energy use through legislation, behavioural change and transformation of economic and political structures, is very rarely present in mainstream media. Sustainable Development and Ecological Modernisation thus appear „natural‟, the only („sensible‟) solutions to the problem of climate change. Moreover, the values that are inscribed in these discourses are suppressed making them appear neutral. Based on an analysis of international press coverage since 1985, Nerlich (2012: 43) has observed a clear reproduction of the Ecological Modernization discourse: „low-carbon technologies and low-carbon economies are now increasingly touted as roadmaps to a brave new low carbon world or low carbon future. (…) The strategic use of low carbon as a compound in industry and policy making (…) has created discursive frames linked to expectations of great future riches to be made and of technological fixes to climate change that can be „bought‟.‟ (emphasis in original) Carvalho et al. (2011) found a similar pattern in the Portuguese press, which has tended to amplify governmental promotion of renewable energies as the solution to climate change (and to the country‟s economic troubles). Koteyko (2012) speaks of a „market-driven sustainability‟ regarding British media discourses on carbon emissions. She found that in recent years, the media have often set up… 236
„… equivalences between the application of the marketplace instruments of carbon trading and investment and sustainability practices. Such reporting promotes recontextualisation (Calsamiglia and Van Dijk, 2004) of sustainability within the confines of corporate discourse through the use of carbon compounds and accompanying finance terms. Drawing on the environmental values on the one hand and the language of finance and accounting on the other, such newspaper stories reproduce neoliberal logics as a legitimate methodology for addressing the issue of global warming.‟ (p. 33) This suggests that the media have helped the appropriation (some would say hijacking) of the discourse of Sustainable Development by business. Yet, evidence of the failure of these approaches to deal with climate change is accumulating. Mitchell (2012: 24) has noted that „scientific and political debates are dominated by a “technophilic optimism” that projects emission reductions from technological improvement that are not supported by the evidence‟ and pointed out the need for substantive measures to constrain population, affluence and consumption. A recent report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has similarly offered a very critical view of the hype around „green growth‟. Noting that many „economists and policy makers advocate a fundamental shift towards “green growth” as the new, qualitatively-different growth paradigm, based on enhanced material/resource/energy efficiency and drastic changes in the energy mix‟, the report argues that „growth, technological, population-expansion and governance constraints as well as some key systemic issues cast a very long shadow on the “green growth” hopes and points out that it „may rather give much false hope and excuses to do nothing really fundamental that can bring about a U-turn of global GHG emissions‟ (Hoffmann, 2011: 1). „What is required‟, the author continues, „is not a relative, but an 237
absolute decoupling of economic growth from MRE [material/resource/energy] throughput, and that at an unprecedented scale in a historically very short period of time‟ (p. 2). The transformations needed to achieve this are, predictably, extremely large and fundamental and include, according to this report „democratization of the economy and cultural change‟ in respect for „global equality of opportunity for prosperity‟ (p. 1). When the media overwhelmingly sideline these aspects and reduce climate change to a Sustainable Development/Ecological Modernization frame they may be trapping citizens into false beliefs and preventing other forms of individual and collective engagement with the issue of social and political significance. Closing remarks The media are a space of confluence and negotiation of multiple understandings. Both the media and a variety of other social actors have attempted to determine the meaning of climate change from different political and ideological standpoints. Media(ted) discourses have helped create systems of intelligibility for interpreting and making decisions on climate change that tend to appear natural and neutral. This chapter has attempted to expose the arbitrary nature of dominant discourses and to understand their contribution to inaction despite growing awareness and knowledge of the risks associated with climate change. In face of growing scientific consensus, a number of organizations continue to spread doubt and in several countries mainstream media continue to host those voices and to propagate denialism of climate change, thus building the symbolic grounds for inaction. Ironically, through overdramatization of risks and/or the dissemination of unfounded optimistic discourses, many media reports have contributed to apathy, denial and/or inaction towards climate change. Moreover, by amplifying techno-managerial solutions 238
and helping turn the discourses of Sustainable Development and Ecological Modernization hegemonic the media have helped produce a „post-political‟ consensus where „free market environmentalism‟ is the only discursive possibility. The governance of climate change has excluded democratic debate and decision-making. By failing to consider alternative views on the relation between humans and nature, and on relevant social arrangements, most mainstream media have legitimated and reinforced the existing social and political order. Our common future depends on „opening up new spaces to critical political imaginaries and debates‟ (De Goede and Randals, 2009: 874) that may counter the dominant (consensual) framing for addressing climate change. In the last few years, some climate activists, some social movements and some alternative media have distanced themselves from such framing and rejected the idea that solutions can be found within the existing structures. These are hopeful –albeit extremely feeble– signs towards rethinking the politics of climate change.
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Beyond Climate: Climate Change as Socio-Natural Risk Mercedes Pardo-Buendía
LTHOUGH most risks are conceptually uncontrollable, as there is no way of knowing all the antagonisms or synergies that could arise in the short, medium or long term, or whether enough is being done to prevent a damage (Pardo, 2009), they are socially manageable, through what the sociologist Anthony Giddens (1995) calls “the colonising of the future”. This phrase is a metaphor adapted to the subject of climate change, and is particularly interesting to contextualise the relevance of the social aspects (society) with regards to climate change. For this reason this article aims to examine climate change as a socialproblem and its risks as largely produced by the action of societies15.
“„Climate change‟ means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global 247
To start this analysis it is necessary to make some conceptual distinctions. The first one is related to risk. Scholars tend to distinguish between danger and risk (Luhmann, 1992), and this distinction is not trivial, but very relevant. Thus, danger refers to a threat to people and to things that people value (including nature) -in this case climate change- whereas risk refers to the probability16 that the threat will occur (often measured in statistical terms) and the losses associated with the phenomenon in question, in this case the effects and impacts of climate change. Applying these concepts to the question of climate change, its threats or dangers can be defined as, for example, an increase of more than 2° C in the average temperature of the planet (the increase was of 0.8° C in the 20th century) (IPCC, 2007)17. However, the risk (or potential effects, impacts and consequences) of this global warming cannot be predicted –or even projected in more accurate terminology– directly from such threat or danger, instead they will depend on the actions of the “receiving environment” of this temperature increase: in this case society, which can act or do nothing. In other words, the relation between danger and impact is not linear nor necessarily a direct cause-effect type of relation. Their interaction is conditioned by such issues as the vulnerability, resilience or strength of the affected party, in this case, society, its institutions, atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods” (definition contained in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, held in May 1992 in New York). 16
This work has avoided the epistemological realism/constructivism debate on risk and accepts the relevance of both perspectives in the case of climate change. 17
2° C is the threshold for the planet‟s global temperature increase, on which the agreements to fight climate change are based, specifically the Kyoto Protocol. 248
lifestyles, production and consumption systems, active policies, etc. Put differently, the “social fabric” stands between danger and its results. This point can be illustrated with the following example. A dramatic consequence of the heat wave that hit Europe in the summer of 2003 (the highest temperature was 47.8° C in Denia, Alicante, Spain) was the death of thousands of people (although there is controversy, deaths were estimated at around 10,400 in France, 6,500 in Spain, 1,300 in Portugal, and 20,000 in Italy, to name but a few countries). This event taught the governmental institutions, the medical services, the media and the population how to react in similar situations, which significantly decreased the mortality rate provoked by the heat wave of July 2006. Hence the importance of capacity building when addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation. From the previous example it is worth noting that the risk, or its expected effects and resulting impacts, do not depend only on the nature of the phenomenon in question, but also on the “receiving environment”, in this case, the strength (or resilience18) or vulnerability of society (its institutions -the health system-, citizens, etc.). Therefore, the social management of risk is presented as key to its prevention and/or harm minimisation. But, an adequate management of the risk of climate change must be based, among other things, on rigorous knowledge of the interconnection between the climate and social systems. Therefore, the term management is by no means
The term 'resilience' is used in ecology to refer to the ability of natural communities to withstand perturbations and return to their previous state, and is also used for the analysis of the impact of climate change on society. However, we prefer to use the term 'strength', because in the fight against climate change the aims is not to return to the previous state of society, but to develop social changes to prevent the occurrence of the problem. 249
confined to a more or less technocratic activity, and applies mainly to the governance of risk, in this case of climate change. In this sense, the dangers of global warming and climate change are being increasingly identified and verified by vast biogeophysical research: the average temperature increases of 0.8° C; average sea level rise of 3.1 mm/year since 1993; the melting of the poles (since 1978 the annual average Arctic sea ice extent has shrunk by 2.7% per decade, with larger decreases in summer of 7.4% per decade); the increase in extreme weather phenomena, e.g. increase in precipitation in eastern parts of North and South America, northern Europe, and northern and central Asia, decline of precipitation in the Sahel, the Mediterranean, southern Africa and parts of southern Asia, and an increase in intense tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic (IPCC, 2007). Such dangers and their corresponding biogeophysical risks present potential social threats that are still insufficiently identified in the scientific research of the social sciences on the different spheres that make up societies. In any case it is important to remember, as Leggett (2011: 2) has pointed out, that “Normal scientific methods aim at disproving a hypothesis; if evidence cannot disprove a hypothesis, it generally buttresses confidence in that hypothesis. The more a hypothesis has been challenged and remains standing in the face of growing evidence, the greater the scientific confidence in it. For policy-makers seeking certainty about whether climate change is occurring and how “bad” it may be, understanding that science will not provide them now or later with “proof” may be an important concept. Decisions to act or not to act will be made in the context of accumulated and debated evidence of risks and uncertainties”.
In conclusion, in the words of German sociologist Ulrich Beck , it can be affirmed that the irony of risk is that it expresses the aversion to a danger that cannot be verified. Ultimately, what is essential about risk, then, is not that something harmful is really going to happen so much as the idea that something might happen. Thus, a substantial part of the scientific analysis has to be the social construction of risk by a given historical society, i.e. the analysis of the risk of climate change as a social problem. 19
Despite these intrinsic uncertainties in the concept of risk, the “magnitude” of the danger is a key variable that influences the resulting risk. Thus, even with the considerations made about the relevance of the “receiving” environment -which varies across societies- it can be affirmed that the greater the magnitude and speed in the creation of danger, the greater the negative impact it will have on societies (IPCC, 2007). Therefore, the question is whether we are capable of socially qualifying the degree of risk that societies are prepared to take, accept and/or manage. This circumstance takes us back to the progress made in our understanding of multiple issues, the sine qua non being the development of social awareness of the danger in hand. If this awareness does not exist, the risk does not exist for society. But that does not necessarily mean that the risk does not exist; what probably happens is that the risk is transferred from places that are legally or socially controlled to others where there is less awareness (or less conflict) and less social control (and therefore the risk is more likely to increase) (Pardo, 2009).
Available athttp://www.cidob.org/en/noticias/dinamicas_interculturales/la_construccio n_politica_y_social_del_riesgo_segun_ulrich_beck. Accessed on 11 January, 2012. 251
But this need for awareness is not just an individual matter, but mainly a collective one, corresponding to the level of reflectivity (Lamo de Espinosa, 1990) of societies. So when we talk of risk, in its most basic sense, we are referring to cultural adaptations (or nonadaptations; risk can also be conceptualised as inaction), or social changes, in the broad sense of the term, to “control” the natural dangers and disasters. In essence, the idea is to establish how social systems are or should be (Pardo, 2009). Risk has another important feature: it is variable and relative. In other words, it does not affect all societies or all individuals equally. The concept of 'vulnerability' is important in this analysis. According to the Spanish Real Academy20, vulnerability refers to the susceptibility of a society, institution, social group or person to physical or emotional injury or attack. It refers to the fragility of a society or a part of it to counteract an existing danger or threat, in this case climate change. This concept expresses “the multidimensionality of disasters by focusing attention on the totality of relationships in a given social situation which constitute a condition that, in combination with environmental forces, produces a disaster” (Bankoff, Greg et al., 2004). On the other hand, the concept of 'resilience' is often used in the analysis of the impact of climate change, by both the natural and social sciences. Resilience refers to the ability of a system (or individual) to cope with disturbances, to reorganise itself while changes are occurring, and preserve its function, structure and identity. This concept is probably valid for the biogeophysical ecosystems, but is static for social systems, as it connotes a return to the previous state. In the case of societies, the use of the psychology meaning of resilience and the term 'strength' are probably more
Real Academia Española (RAE) 252
accurate. By strength we mean the capacity of a society, or a part of it, to anticipate, survive, resist and recover from the impact of a threat, which is a more accurate concept to address climate change mitigation and adaptation. Climate change mitigation and adaptation are established scientific, political and sociological areas. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) and the policies to counteract climate change21 have addressed both areas to a greater or lesser extent. Thus, mitigation refers to actions aimed at decreasing the causes (for example, change of the energy model towards greater participation of renewable energy), and adaptation refers to actions aimed at tolerating the consequences (for example, the preparation of health systems to face the heat waves). It is important to remark that adaptation to climate change in no way means passivity or resignation. On the contrary, in its AngloSaxon definition, adaptation means proactivity, i.e. preparation in the broadest sense of the word (diagnosis, prediction, social capacity building and search for alternatives, among others). The different scope of the policies and activities on climate change mitigation and adaptation reflect the differences in climate change risks across the variety of contemporary societies and social groups. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the distributive aspects of risk to gain a full understanding of the phenomenon and its social control. With respect to this, the term â€œenvironmental classesâ€? has been coined (Murphy, 1994). Paradoxically, risk analyses do not tend to take into account the reciprocal relations between the technological impact and the social systems, or the symbolic constructs (e.g. images and conceptions) that people develop in their daily lives regarding the dangers they are exposed to or the social 21
For example, the Spanish Strategy Against Climate Change. 253
distribution of risk. In some cases, risks to human life, health, and economic values are considered, but other valuable and necessary aspects of human existence, such as the impact of social institutions and collective systems on networks, are ignored. Risk specialisation particularly technocratic risk management- tends to cloud this aspect (Pardo, 2009). The uncertainty over risk must be made conceptually and practically intelligible, as it goes beyond the rationalities and techniques of risk analysis, which are normally based on „objective‟ statistics. There are important differences between the opinions of experts and the non-expert population. Generally speaking, experts measure risk in terms of probability. For the affected population sectors, on the other hand, the perception of risk is broader and more difficult to explain in statistical terms, which is what experts demand. This divide between the two sectors calls for important changes like, for example, improving the translation of scientific knowledge to the everyday language of public opinion and politics to make risk evaluation part of the common sense of every citizen. And the opposite is also true; translation of the values of citizenship to the field of experts needs to be improved. When we speak of risk, security, uncertainty and acceptability, what we are speaking about is the best way to organise society (Pardo, 2009). „Organized irresponsibility‟ refers to the fact that despite the extensive bureaucratic organisation that characterises contemporary societies, whose purpose is precisely to guarantee the “normal” operation of everyday life, it is not possible to offer this guarantee because it is impossible to locate clear responsibility for the risk, due to the very nature of the risks (this is the case of climate change). In addition, the complexity of the system of responsibilities allows that none of the parties may have full responsibility (or responsibility in all matters) and allows the tendency to externalise responsibility to another subsystem (which may not be the one with least risk, but very 254
probably the one receiving least attention). To sum up, risk and responsibility are intrinsically related. One alternative could be â€œorganised corresponsibilityâ€?. Although with different levels of responsibility (between those who cause problems and those who suffer them; between those who should solve the problems and those who can solve them, or between those who intervene so that the problems can be solved, etc.), everybody has the right and duty to contribute, with the aim of maximising resources and creating positive synergy. Organised corresponsibility tries to foment, support and create permanent social networks that go deep in content and take on actions. These networks are the basis for coordination policies between the different public and private institutions, as it is important for the various social agents to assume responsibility, though not in isolation, but through coordinated action. Democracy and transparency are indispensable conditions for developing corresponsibility processes. Because of all this, public participation in risk management involves such matters as consensus planning, the development of participative policies, the establishment of social management networks, and the management of the configuration of the risk governance system. This is a question of creating majorities for a better definition and management of the policies to be developed. Social risk management requires a priori acceptance and social agreement, which takes us back to its treatment which uses an integral approach that applies precautionary principles and encourages social democratic participation. It is necessary to advance in the understanding of the social risk of climate change in all the spheres that make up society, and particularly in (Pardo, 2007):
The population as a demographic base and its settlement structures. The objective is to establish the extent to what climate change can affect peopleâ€&#x;s health and life expectancy (according to their socio-demographic characteristics) in the countries differently affected by climate change, as well as the territorial settlement that takes place while the areas with major climate-based habitability problems are being identified. In this line, human migration is another relevant area of research, with all the aspects that migration involves. The economy, as an area highly valued by societies, is also subject of research in relation to the potential negative impact of climate change. The Stern Review22, diagnosed that the stabilisation of greenhouse gases at 500-550 ppm levels (the current level is 430 ppm, in comparison to 280 ppm prior to the industrial revolution) would cost approximately 1% of the global annual GDP up to the year 2050. If nothing is done now damages are estimated to cost 520% of GDP. However, more specific knowledge is needed on the ways climate change can affect the economy of certain impoverished societies. Of course, the differential aspects between countries and social classes are areas of analytical work and policy development. The positive results include the benefits of all the technological transformations produced by the change of energy model, for example. Culture in its broad (anthropological) meaning, i.e. patterns of societal organisation and the material and non-material cultural achievements (for example, technological and symbolic 22
Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (30/10/2006), commissioned by the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.UK/+/http://www.HMTreasury.gov.UK/stern_review_report.htm Accessed on 13 January, 2012.
developments, respectively). Relevant areas include the impact on the social structure, the education of the population, the social support networks, the political and social organisation, governance and democracy systems, social norms and values, levels of social unrest and/or social cohesion, security of human populations, cultural heritage, etc. As we can see, all the problems related to climate change are complex and difficult to communicate to society because climate is not the only problem; climate change is a socio-natural risk. Perhaps this is the reason why, despite climate change is widely â€œdiscussedâ€? across societies, it has not yet been possible for people or institutions to make the connection between climate change and their daily life, which indicates an area for improvement.
References Bankoff, Greg et al. (2004). Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People. London: Earthscan. Giddens, A. (1995). Modernidad e identidad del yo. El yo y la sociedad en la época contemporánea. Barcelona: Península. Lamo de Espinosa, E. (1990). La sociedad reflexiva. Sujeto y objeto del conocimiento sociológico. Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas. Leggett, Jane A. (August 29, 2011).Climate Change: Conceptual Approaches and Policy Tools. Congressional Research Service, R41973. Luhmann, N. (1992). Sociología del riesgo. Guadalajara: Universidad Iberoamericana / Universidad de Guadalajara. Murphy, R. (1994). Rationality and Nature. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Pardo, M. (2007). “El impacto social del Cambio Climático”. Panorama Social nº 5: 22-35. - (2009). “El Cambio Climático como riesgo sociocultural”. Ciudades, Energía y Cambio Climático. Metrópolis: Revista de Información y Pensamiento Urbanos, nº 75: 94-95.
Climatechange, uncertainty and human security Asunci贸n Lera-St.Clair
NE of the most important characteristics in the public debate on climate change is the emphasis on scientific uncertainty. Two types of uncertainty dominate the public debate: scientific uncertainties associated to the identification of greenhouse gases as the cause of global warming, and the current and future impacts of climate change in ecological systems and their consequences in human systems. This emphasis on the scientific aspects distracts the attention from other more important matters for which scientific uncertainty is quite irrelevant. Issues related to human security are dismissed and ignored by the tendency of the public debate to limit the definition of climate change to a problem related to carbondioxide emissions that has to be exclusively addressed by the hard sciences. 259
This article suggests that the dissemination of research that addresses climate change from a perspective that goes beyond issues related to carbon-dioxide and takes into account the human contexts and discusses the socioeconomic development systems that have caused the climate crisis would contribute more effectively to spreading awareness about the real risks and possible solutions. The lack of research from the social sciences and humanities creates the false impression that the problem of climate change is incomprehensible and, by association, distant for the ordinary population. In fact, the causes of this crisis that we do not see, understand, or try to solve are actually the lifestyles of ordinary people, the institutions in which we are all submerged, and the economic systems and social practices that govern our everyday life. Collective and institutional solutions are obviously needed, but they will not emerge until there is a personal awareness of the risks that climate change presents. The second decade of this century must be the time for citizens to become aware of a problem that affects us all, otherwise it will be the time for which our generation will be judged for failing to act to prevent its potentially catastrophic risks. The media can become an ally for the first option, or become an accomplice for the second option. Instead of replicating and publicising the messages of the sceptics, the media should communicate a balanced human perspective on climate change that could contribute to the generation of a public debate that is currently non-existent and urgently needed. Science has discovered a problem it cannot resolve Recent data show that it is very possible that in the near future the temperature will increase more than two degrees centigrade in Eurasia, Canada and parts of Africa, and that it is very possible that during the second half of this century a similar temperature increase will occur in the whole world (Joshiet al., 2011). Others believe that 260
we must begin to imagine how our planet will be like with an average increase of more than four degrees, as the lack of action to mitigate greenhouse gases leads to higher concentrations and complex processes of interaction between the affected parts of the planet (New et al., 2011; Stafford Smith et al., 2011). But these changes are not easy to notice as climate change is an invisible reality to the human eye. We only notice changes in time but not climate changes, which can be identified only through historical analyses of climate change over the past millennia and in the long term. Without the ability to measure temperature fluctuations over the centuries, the data collected and analysed by climatologists, and the knowledge developed through super computers and information technologies, it would be impossible to confirm that climate is radically changing in comparison to fluctuations occurred over the past centuries. The discovery of climate change has been a slow and gradual process, with an increasingly sophisticated development in the identification of factors that influence the earth system (Edwards 2011). This discovery is in itself the result of the innovation in the way the natural sciences operate. In the field of earth system science, the collaboration between several branches of the natural sciences provides a holistic view of the natural world and of course of its climate. For example, the term â€œplanetary boundariesâ€? reflects a science that has learned to view the planet Earth in a holistic manner, but of course this holistic scientific view is complex and not easy to communicate. Some of the most important instruments to promote the understanding of the Earth as a system have been the reports published every five or six years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These reports, the last one published in 2007, only summarise evidence published by scientists from around the world and present data in a coherent and concise ways. Part of the process generated in the IPCC is a process of dialogue with 261
scientists, government representatives, and politicians through extensive and systematically organised reports. Although the amount of this type of scientific work has grown in recent years and an increasing number of social scientists are starting to study the problems generated by climate change and their solutions, the study of climate change remains primarily a responsibility of the natural sciences. From these scientific discoveries we can draw two conclusions. Firstly, the dissemination of scientific results that predict a completely uncertain future for human life with a high degree of uncertainty in their data is a disastrous action. This action easily leads people to believe the problem is incomprehensible or made up by scientists who do not completely agree with their research results, and therefore leads to the degeneration and denigration of this science, which subsequently contributes to the lack of action. As it will be explained later, the linear conceptions of science facilitate this misunderstanding. Secondly, and most importantly, the sciences that have discovered the problem of climate change do not have solutions or ideas to tackle it. The study of the lifestyles, societies and institutions that have led to this great environmental problem is not the responsibility of the natural sciences but of the social sciences and humanities, but they are still secondary in the study of climate change. With regards to the first point, it should be noted that the hegemonic conception of climate change is dominated by the â€œhard sciencesâ€?, which present the challenge as a matter of knowing and dominating the environment. This view interacts with a political system that has short-term objectives and is unable to address an issue for more than a few years. And this techno-optimistic view is dominated by the North and a socioeconomic and political global system interested in carbon use and consumerist models that are incompatible with sustainability and transformation. 262
Thus there is a lack of balance. The emphasis on climate change as a primarily scientific matter that is very difficult to communicate and the simplistic view of the economic and technological solutions encourage a lack of action and responsibility. At the same time peopleâ€&#x;s conception of science as objective and apolitical harms the conditions to conduct a balanced debate. Traditional science understands the relations that exist between its discoveries, the policies, and the public as linear relations, where knowledge is developed objectively, and separated from society and politics. Once theorised, knowledge is presented as a final product that must be disseminated. This linear scientific conception of knowledge tends to deny the political and social aspects involved in its creation, but at the same time requires a specificity that is not realistic in many cases (St.Clair, 2006a, 2006b). Cognitive dissonance is generated by the combination of the complexity of the science behind climate change, the challenges that put social welfare and development and very important economic political interests behind the carbon-based industries, and the conception of science as neutral and apolitical. This cognitive dissonance, which is encouraged by an unprecedented issue with disastrous consequences that require changes at all levels, translates into an unequal and unjust communication. Communication becomes distorted, and focuses on uncertainty as a central theme, which generates more paralysis and more cognitive dissonance. This creates the vicious circle in which we find ourselves, but also promotes certain optimism with regards to the possible risks we are facing. But this optimistic view, based on the hard sciences and the extraordinary faith on the power of the economy and technology, does not delve into the social, cultural and human contexts that explain how climate change is experienced, the causes that lead to the ecological crisis, or the actions that could solve it. These are the crucial factors that are not being communicated, which prevents the 263
understanding of the risks presented by climate change and prevents the public debate about the possible solutions. Once again, science has discovered a problem that it cannot solve. The solutions include discovering the role of human behavior as cause and solution. And many of the answers will be beyond the scope of science; in particular they will be related to ethical and political decisions to establish the risks and their likelihood in different aspects. These questions lead us to a definition of climate change not as a scientific discovery but as the discovery that human societies have reached the limit where they must question the models of progress, development and quality of life that are based on consumerism and the possession of material goods. This question is profoundly social and human. Perhaps one of the most important questions that should be answered is actually philosophical: what does it mean to be human in the Anthropocene era23, in the time of the planetary boundaries, which were previously unknown by all thinkers on whom the philosophy of modernity is based? Towards sustainable societies: climate change and human security Therefore, a human perspective is needed to discover what is at stake, which are the risks, and how to make a transition towards sustainable societies. This perspective is not intended to replace the hard sciences but to complement it. Climate change and human security should be the basis to produce a new science that not only understands the ecological and systemic processes of the planet but also contextualises them in human societies, institutions and power relations and addresses them as part of systems of values, beliefs and views of the 23
The term Anthropocene refers to the new geological era in which human actions determine the ecological circumstances of the planet Earth. It is therefore the human era, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene 264
present and the future. These are questions that neither science nor politics can answer unilaterally. The risks presented by climate change and the solutions that are already underway lead and will lead to unequal situations, in which there will be winners and losers. Many of these questions are to be answered by such disciplines as ethics and law. But they are also questions that no science will be able to answer, for instance, the idea that we should adapt or perish (Parry et al., 2009). My previous work on human security suggested that the philosophical society-nature dualism of modern thought is the basis of the conception of climate change as an exclusively environmental problem which promotes a strong sense of control (O'Brien et al., 2010). This discourse holds the bureaucratic and political systems as responsible for this problem (as they have failed to stop it), and takes away the ideological and personal responsibility in which we all are submerged. And this orthodox approach fails to acknowledge the institutional basis, including philosophy, language, values and culture, which are in fact the roots of a conception of progress that depends on the use of carbon, and even blinds the inequalities that it has produced. This means that the dualism between nature and society is reproduced rather than questioned. Equality is another important issue that is not addressed in the technocratic and environmental perspective, which only contends a trivial and obvious truth: that climate change disproportionately affects developing countries and that developed countries are responsible for the past and present emissions (M端ller, 2002; Roberts and Parks, 2006). This conception deals less with how the development models that led to the climate crisis have also failed to promote an egalitarian and just global society and on many occasions have been the cause of poverty and marginalisation (O'Brien and Leichenko, 2006; St.Clair, 2010). Inequalities in terms of race, gender, caste, ethnicity or class in developed countries and within national 265
borders are neither theorised in relation to climate change. Issues of inequality must be seen as part of the processes and factors that contribute to an unjust world, where wealth is concentrated in few hands. The analysis of climate change should be extended to what has happened in the relations between the north and the south, and to examine how the lack of development departs from historical processes such as colonialism and the conflicts between European nations and later North America focuses on the use of natural resources from Africa, Asia and also partly from Latin America and the Caribbean. Responses given so far to the problems caused by climate change in developing countries are also treated with an economic and technologic logic, which assumes that the aid for development is already doing as much as it can to reduce poverty, and the only thing left to do is simply to give more help for adaptation (Klein et al., 2006). I argue that these efforts perpetuate an unjust global system and will lead to an even more unfair situation when the impacts of global warming really begin to endanger whole societies in some parts of Africa and lead to famines and possibly to conflicts. The technological and technocratic science has led to the definition of poverty as a matter of statistics that is unrelated to local, regional and global social, economic and political relations, and is ignorant of the real problems faced by poor groups (Lawson and St.Clair, 2009). If we go deeper into this analogy, the role played by the social sciences in studies of poverty, we can see that there has been a dominant knowledge that has not been able to theorise the causes of and possible solutions to poverty except in a technocratic and bureaucratic way. Poverty was defined as a problem that occurs mainly in distant lands and is disassociated from global economic and neoliberal processes. There is evidence that the reasons that continue to divide the world into few rich people and many poor people are related to political and economic processes that benefit minorities 266
with power and resources. The critical view of poverty has been dismissed by politicians and the majority of citizens as a problem of others. And this view is related to the belief that a developed society is a society with more resources, even if this ignores the vulnerable groups (Lawson and St.Clair, 2009). The view of human security presents an opportunity to explore these and other issues, because it sees climate change as part of a global system where the relationship between human rights, values, beliefs, culture, and environmental uses are theorised in a holistic way and contextualised in the experiences of individuals and their communities. The term human security has been defined from a perspective of norms and capabilities by Amartya Sen in the UNâ€&#x;s Human Security Commission (2001). According to him: Human security means protecting fundamental freedoms freedoms that are the essence of life. It means protecting people from critical (severe) and pervasive (widespread) threats and situations. It means using processes that build on peopleâ€&#x;s strengths and aspirations. It means creating political, social, environmental, economic, military and cultural systems that together give people the building blocks of survival, livelihood and dignity. (Human Security Commission, 2003: 4). Although this definition does not focus on environmental issues and does not mention the issue of climate change, we argue that it serves to re-frame the contemporary debate on the definition of climate change and the actions that can be taken to tackle it. This view help us to understand that the causes and negative impacts of climate change are related to economic and financial policies; perverse economic incentives; a lack of self-reflection and solidarity with others, especially the poor people around the world; and, obviously, a dominant culture where having more means being better.
This conception is also based on freedoms (and corresponding rights and obligations) that encourage self-reflection about the models of progress and well-being and modernity that have led to the crisis. Therefore this conception opens up spaces to contextualise the meaning of global warming at personal, social and systemic levels, and spaces for a public debate on alternative models of progress. Communication on climate change as part of our humanity From this human perspective, communication on climate change acquires a very different dimension. Evidently it leads us to acknowledge very difficult issues and to deal with the aforementioned cognitive dissonance. Moreover, the theme of scientific uncertainty becomes less central once the media begins to investigate climate change not as an environmental crisis, but as the result of the actions of people, policies, institutions, and business, and as having consequences that raise very deep questions about ethics and justice. There are clear examples of risks that are not completely known in everyday life but are, nonetheless, seriously acknowledged and tackled individually and collectively. For example, any citizen who owns a piece of real state property pays for fire or flood insurance. Obviously, it is not known with certainty whether this risk will materialise at some point. However, it is considered normal to accept the risk. This type of approach should be discussed in public spaces. What risks, and for whom, are provoked by a conception of progress and lifestyles that are based on a type of pollution that has catastrophic consequences even if they are not perfectly known? What are the human dimensions of the causes, consequences and solutions of this problem? What is the meaning of this problem for citizens and public bureaucracies? What type of leadership does it demand from the political class? And how can we start to envision a sustainable society that is fair and equal to our generation, those that 268
are living in distant countries but are connected through an endless number of global processes, and the future generations? I suggest that the media could not only begin to address these issues, but could also open up spaces for self-reflection. The opening of this space should at least show what happens when instead of highlighting scientific uncertainty the media emphasises the uncertainty of the human future, including the future of welfare societies that are based on democratic principles, and recognises a series of individual and collective responsibilities. Self-reflection should also reach the media. If the crisis presented by global warming is a crisis of values, justice, inequality; a crisis of conscience and principles that forces us to change how we see the world and ourselves as part of the world, the crisis also includes the media institutions. Therefore, there is a professional responsibility that should also be applied by educational institutions and scientific journalists.
References Edwards, P. N. 2011. “History of climate modeling”, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 128–139. Joshi, M., Hawkins, E., Sutton, R., Lowe, J. & Frame, D. 2011. Projections of when temperature change will exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Nature Climate Change, 1 (8), pp. 407-412. Klein, R., J., T., Eriksen, S., E., H., Næss, L., O., Hammill, A., Robledo, C., O'Brien, K., L., and Tanner, T., M. 2007. Portfolio Screening to Support the Mainstreaming of Adaptation to Climate Change into Development Assistance. Climatic Change 84(1): 15731480. Lawson, Victoria and Asuncion Lera St.Clair. 2009. "The Relevance of Critical Global Poverty Studies in the Re-framing of Environmental Change as an issue of Human Security," IHDP Update 2009/2: pp. 25-29. Leichenko, R., M., and O‟Brien, K., L. 2008. Environmental Change and Globalization: Double Exposures. New York: Oxford University Press. Müller, B. 2002. Equity in Climate Change: The Great Divide. Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, with support of Shell Foundation: Oxford. New, M., Liverman, D., Schroeder, H. & Anderson, K. 2011. Four degrees and beyond: The potential for a global temperature 270
increase of four degrees and its implications. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A, 369, pp. 6-19. O'Brien, K., St.Clair, A. L. & Kristoffersen, B. (eds.) 2010. Climate Change, Ethics and Human Security, New York: Cambridge University Press. Parry, M., Lowe, J., and Hanson, C. 2009. “Overshoot, Adapt and Recover,” Nature 458 (30), pp. 1102-1103. Roberts, T., J., and Parks, B., C. 2006. A Climate of Injustice: Global Inequality, North-South Politics, and Climate Policy. Cambridge: MIT Press. Stafford Smith, M., Horrocks, L., Harvey, A. & Hamilton, C. 2011. Rethinking adaptation for a 4o C world. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A, 369, pp. 196216. St. Clair, Asuncion Lera. 2006a. "Global Poverty: The Co-Production of Knowledge and Politics," Journal of Global Social Policy 6(1), pp. 57-77. St. Clair, Asuncion Lera. 2006b. "Global Poverty: Development Ethics Meets Global Justice" Journal Globalizations 3 (2), pp. 139-157. St.Clair, A.L. (2010) “Climate change and global poverty: The responsibility to protect,” in O'Brien, K., St.Clair, A. L. & Kristoffersen, B. (eds.) 2010. Climate Change, Ethics and Human Security, New York: Cambridge University Press. UN Commission on Human Security, 2003 available at http://ochaonline.un.org/Default.aspx?alias=ochaonline.un.org /humansecurity
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). 2008. Human Development Report 2007/2008 Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world. New York: United Nations Development Programme.