Network news climate change stories rarely report both impact, action

Mar 26, 2014 by Jared Wadley

( —When it involves climate change coverage, viewers don't always get the complete picture from U.S. network television, according to a University of Michigan study.

Major networks—ABC, CBS and NBC—show the impact or actions taken in climate change stories, but rarely combine the components in the same broadcast to give viewers better coverage, the study shows.

"When information about the threat that climate change poses is not paired with solutions on what can be done in response, individuals may ignore climate messages and be less likely to engage in political action on the issue," said Sol Hart, U-M assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Program in the Environment.

Hart and colleague Lauren Feldman, an assistant professor at Rutgers University, reviewed 440 network news transcripts about during a six-year period ending in 2011.

Overall, 60 percent of the broadcasts mentioned the impact of climate change and 59 percent discussed actions that could be taken to address the issue. About 23 percent of the broadcasts discussed both effects and actions together.

Nearly 54 percent of all broadcasts discussed using an environmental frame, 13 percent focused on public health, another 13 percent emphasized economic impact and 8 percent involved national security.

Also, actions to address climate change are most often framed in terms of conflict between politicians and stakeholders on whether to implement an action, rather than how may help reduce , the researchers said.

If news audiences believe that a proposed action could ultimately work to adapt to or mitigate , the emphasis on political conflict in coverage "is likely to give the impression that the government will be unresponsive to calls for action and that the likelihood of implementing climate mitigation policies is low," Hart said.

The findings appear in Science Communication.

Explore further: Current residential development research is a poor foundation for sustainable development

Related Stories

The reality behind Europe's response to climate change

Nov 25, 2013

British cities – unlike their counterparts on the mainland - are taking the lead in making plans to curb and handle the impact of climate change. So says Diana Reckien, of Columbia University in the US, ...

Global warming's record-setting pace

Feb 17, 2014

The pace of global warming over the last century has been about twice as rapid over land than over the oceans and will continue to be more dramatic going forward if emissions are not curbed. According to ...

Recommended for you

Study provides detailed projections of coral bleaching

12 hours ago

While research shows that nearly all coral reef locations in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico will experience bleaching by mid-century, a new study showing in detail when and where bleaching will occur shows ...

Germany restricts fracking but doesn't ban it

18 hours ago

The German cabinet drew up rules Wednesday on the hitherto unregulated technology of "fracking" in Germany, narrowly restricting its use, but stopping short of an outright ban.

Life in the poisonous breath of sleeping volcanos

19 hours ago

Researchers of the University Jena analyze the microbial community in volcanically active soils. In a mofette close to the Czech river Plesná in north-western Bohemia, the team around Prof. Dr. Kirsten Küsel ...

Eggs and chicken instead of beef reap major climate gains

20 hours ago

Beef on our plates is one of the biggest climate villains, but that does not mean we have to adopt a vegan diet to reach climate goals. Research results from Chalmers University of Technology show that adopting ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.4 / 5 (5) Mar 26, 2014
32 years of 95% certainty that THE END IS NEAR isn't good enough for real planet lovers to condemn billions of innocent children to a knowingly exaggerated crisis. Your children are asking why are you "believing" more than science does as not one single IPCC warning "believes" beyond; "could be" and 95% and not one says; "inevitable" like they say comet hits are evolution and smoking causing cancer are. Science never committed any hoax, you slavish "believers" and lazy news editors and pandering politicians exaggerated a three decade old scientific consensus of "maybe".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.