Media coverage affects perceptions of climate change

Feb 25, 2009

Climate change will not be taken seriously until the media highlights its significance, say researchers at the University of Liverpool.

Dr Neil Gavin, from the School of Politics and Communication Studies, believes the way the media handles issues like climate change shapes the public's perception of its importance. Limited coverage is unlikely to convince readers that climate change is a serious problem that warrants immediate and decisive action.

Researchers found that the total number of articles on climate change printed over three years was fewer than one month's worth of articles featuring health issues. The articles offered mixed messages about the seriousness and imminence of problems facing the environment.

Dr Gavin explains: "Our research suggests that the media is not treating these issues with the seriousness that scientists would say they deserve. The research company lpsos-MORI found that 50% of people think the jury is still out on the causes of global warming. The limited amount of media coverage - which tends to be restricted to the broadsheets - means that this statistic is unlikely to alter in the short-term.

"Climate change, therefore, may not be high enough on the media agenda to stimulate the sort of public concern that prompts concerted political action. The media may well continue to focus its attention on health, the economy or crime, thereby drawing public attention away from the issue of climate change.

"This is more likely when resources are stretched, government popularity is on the wane, or where more pressing, non-climate-related issues force the government to direct expenditure or invest its political capital and energy elsewhere."

He added: "Even if the British Government wanted to push climate change further up the media agenda, it is not necessarily in a position to shape the debate that takes place in the media."

Source: University of Liverpool

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User comments : 10

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seanpu
4.1 / 5 (10) Feb 25, 2009
sorry, but the jury *IS* still out. there is still no clear evidence that the earth is actually warming due to human activity, the hockystick has never been verified, only proved false, and those surveyed are clearly more open minded than a lot of climatologists out there. well done to the media for not brainwashing people, and well done to those surveyed, they obviously have their wits about them.
lengould100
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2009
perhaps "open headed" is a better reference?
noosfractal
4.2 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2009
I honestly don't understand how there could possibly be any greater coverage of global warming. People are even beginning to talk of "green fatigue" as public shrugs its collective shoulders at being told, once again, that the threat is greater than ever before and requires ever more public money to possibly mitigate in some small way - but actually, probably not, it's really too late and most people will just melt where they stand - only the scientists who establish a new utopia deep within the Antarctic landmass will have a chance of surviving the fires that will engulf the Earth just before all dry land sinks beneath the waves.

How could the message possibly get any more dire?
mo411
3.8 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2009
When the ignorant media machine gets involved the only ones who prosper are those wishing, needing really, to convey factoids. This is the case with climatologists and their flimsy case for global warming being caused by man kind. If they where honest when the collective hypotheses have been proven flatly wrong then maybe the masses would have reason to get involved. Simply put, telling people to trust the media is exactly the wrong approach... it is what gets us political expedience like Albert Gore (my house could have employed solar for decades but I chose to consume more then my neighbors to appear as a true hypocrite) whose contributions to the entire discussion was a move that for all reasons has too many holes to be believed (of course one gets a parse for factoids by the media machine).
Gammakozy
4 / 5 (5) Feb 25, 2009
To paraphrase a great conservative "You can put lipstick on a lie but it is still a lie". The problem is not the amount of coverage but the false message and the credibility of the messengers. While global temperature has always fluctuated, the assertion that the human activity can overwhelm our planet's temperature regulation capabilities is mere speculation. The real objective of the warming alarmists is to gain control of the geo-political agenda through massive propoganda so that they can create laws that force everyone to follow their plan. Finally, even if their faulty premise was true, why would anybody trust the Goreofascists, and their useful idiots in the media, for solutions?
THEY
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 25, 2009
What a bunch of malarky! Yes, humans need to quit polluting and be less wasteful. But when ever I hear scientists claim that global warming is human caused, I nearly die laughing. We are responsible for global warming on all the other planets in our solar system? Pulleeze! Earth is NOT the only planet in our system going through a warming trend.

Maybe someone needs to let Marvin the Martian know he needs to stop global warming on Mars too.
tonche
1 / 5 (3) Feb 25, 2009
I concur the jury is still OUT.....

However if planet earth was a rental we would cetainly have forfieted our "bond/deposit"
JerryPark
4.8 / 5 (5) Feb 26, 2009
1) The jury is still out. GW and AGW in particular are not settled issues.

2) BS. The media coverage on GW is incessant and has been for many years. In addition, the movie industry cannot make a film without warning that human beings are about to die from GW.

---

To paraphrase a common expression, there are lies, damn lies and global warming tales.
MikeB
5 / 5 (3) Mar 01, 2009
The debate is over... Anthropogenic Global Warming is a damnable lie!
Arkaleus
5 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2009
It's insulting to have this Dr. Gavin openly complaining that AGW is somehow not treated with the urgency it deserves. It's almost if he was blaming the media for not propagandizing AGW enough, as if the public awareness was driven entirely by what they hear and see on TV.

Well Dr. Gavin, I've got news for you, your estimations of our intelligence were on the low side, and the reason why your plans are being thwarted is because we have rejected them.