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Noon seminar - Who speaks for the climate? Making sense of media reporting on climate change

Monday, March 19, 2012, 12:00PM - 1:00PM


Max Boykoff

Center for Science and Technology Policy Research


ARC room 620

Mass media serve vital roles in communication processes between science, policy and the public, and often stitch together perceptions, intentions, considerations, and actions regarding climate change. Many dynamic, contested and complex factors contribute to how media outlets portray various facets of climate change science, politics and policy. In this talk, I will touch on salient and swirling contextual factors as well as competing journalistic pressures and norms that contribute to how issues, events and information have often become climate ‘news’. I will focus my attention on how particular problems and snags in the web of interaction between science, media, policy and the public have contributed to critical misperceptions, misleading debates, distractions and divergent understandings – that are detrimental to efforts that seek to enlarge rather than constrict the spectrum of possibility for responses to climate challenges. To make this more concrete, at part of this discussion I will discuss some factors and features that shape media treatment of climate stances taken up by candidates in the US Republican Primaries, which culminate in Spring 2012. Overall, I will situate issues like these in the wider context of a ‘cultural politics of climate change,’ where formal climate science and governance link with people’s everyday activities in the public sphere.