UK tabloids contribute to climate complacency

April 28, 2008
UK tabloids contribute to climate complacency
There is scientific consensus about human contributions to climate change

The effect of human behaviour on climate change is misrepresented in the most widely-read UK tabloid newspapers, according to the latest research at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.

The new findings, published in the Institute of Physics Environmental Research Letters are cause for concern as action to reduce man-made green-house gas emissions becomes increasingly urgent.

Based on an analysis of nearly 1,000 tabloid articles from the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Express and the Mirror, the researchers found that many readers were being misinformed. The researchers analysed the tone, the context, the terminology, the labelling of those quoted and the relationships between messages.

The researchers found that about a quarter of coverage in the four UK tabloids from 2000 through 2006 misrepresented wide scientific agreement that man-made GHG emissions have ‘very likely’ had a role to play in global warming.

Dr Max Boykoff, James Martin Research Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute, said: ‘These newspapers have very high circulation and influence in the UK. We hope these findings help tabloid reporters and editors reflect further on the accuracy of their climate change reporting.

'To the extent that reporting and commentary have misrepresented scientific consensus on the issue of human contributions to climate change, there is a problem.’

Newspaper coverage of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations and the recent ‘banish the plastic bag’ campaign illustrates how successfully newspapers can engage the public.

Commentators like the Sun’s Jeremy Clarkson are contradicting scientific thought with unfounded authority when making statements such as: ‘This confirms what I’ve been saying for years – cars do not cause global warming. Now we learn that all along it was bloody sheeps and cows.’

Boykoff continued: ‘Misreporting on human contributions to climate change can contribute to skewed views among these papers’ many readers. We’re all involved in the fight against climate change and it’s in all of our interest to widen, rather than restrict, the spectrum of possibility for appropriate policy action.’

Source: Oxford University

Explore further: Gardening worms and climate change undermine natural coastal protection

Related Stories

Last remnant of North American ice sheet on track to vanish

March 20, 2017

The last piece of the ice sheet that once blanketed much of North America is doomed to disappear in the next several centuries, says a new study by researchers at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and the University ...

Call for engineers to act on climate change

March 15, 2017

Discussion around limiting climate change primarily focusses on whether the best results can be gained by individuals changing how they act, or governments introducing new legislation.

Climate change to stretch household budgets

March 17, 2017

Disadvantaged groups need to be helped to cope with the cost pressures caused by climate change, according to a new report compiled by the University of Dundee for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Recommended for you

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

March 22, 2017

Arctic sea ice appears to have reached on March 7 a record low wintertime maximum extent, according to scientists at NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. And on the opposite ...

Under the dead sea, warnings of dire drought

March 22, 2017

Nearly 1,000 feet below the bed of the Dead Sea, scientists have found evidence that during past warm periods, the Mideast has suffered drought on scales never recorded by humans—a possible warning for current times. Thick ...

0 comments

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.