Framing Climate Change In The Media.




Climate change as a news subject includes potential story components such as the oil industry and the Earth's climatic equilibrium. 



Leading scientists across the globe now argue that the focus should move from whether or not climate change is occurring to what can be done about it. 


While newspapers in the United States may be ignoring the topic, climate change has been framed in terms of severe weather effects or oil reduction solutions in all areas. 

Individuals "frame" a problem by mentally arranging and sharing the key concepts of the subject with others. 

This framing may have a significant impact on how people perceive the nature of the issue, who or what they believe is to blame for it, and what they believe should be done to solve it. 



News framing is the practice of arranging and packaging information in the same way. 


  • It entails picking and choosing whatever elements of a seen reality to emphasize. 
  • It advocates a specific issue description, blame assignment, causal interpretation, ethical or moral interpretation, or solution recommendation. 



Key phrases and ideas highlighted in tales serve as news frames. 


The majority of news material is either episodic in nature, focusing on particular occurrences, or thematic in nature, focusing on broad or abstract ideas. 

In a news article, for example, using an episodic or thematic frame to describe the effect of climate change on polar bears does not result in individual behavior change. 

The use of a thematic frame, on the other hand, generates higher support for climate-change measures than the use of an episodic frame. 



When the media pays greater attention to ethical concerns, more prominent public dialogue, or scientific-economic issues, it tends to recast a significant scientific dispute. 


Social progress, economic development/competitiveness, morality/ethics, scientific/technical uncertainty, Pandora's box/runaway science, public accountability/governance, middle way/alternative path, and conflict/strategy are eight frames that consistently appear across science-related policy debates, according to Gamson and Modigliani. 

The news media create, analyze, and frame the claims-makers and their problems, while the news media vie for legitimacy. 

While policy and scientific frames were restricted in Peruvian coverage of an international climate meeting, solutions and impacts frames prevailed. 



Between 2001 and 2007, Dirikx and Gelders compared how Dutch and French newspapers covered climate change during the yearly United Nations Conferences of the Parties. 


They found five dominating frames in the coverage: non-pursuit, consequences, responsibility, conflict, and human interest. 

The majority of the tales focused on the repercussions of not taking a particular course of action, as well as potential losses and benefits, which is known as a consequences frame. 

The responsibility framework emphasized the necessity for immediate action and potential solutions, as well as governments' duty for addressing climate change issues. 

The conflict frame was less common than the other four frames, although it was more frequent than the human interest frame. 



Since 2007, the increasing magnitude of problems posed by climate change has reshaped international security in worldwide media coverage. 


In light of credible scientific data, this new norm has designated climate change as a security concern. 

It arose as a result of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, which formed an international legal framework. 

Internalizing the security threat standard in treaties, on the other hand, was insufficient to solidify the norm. 

Many municipal and state governments, as well as the business sector, were forced to participate in a significant and complicated change in US domestic policy. 

As a result of the shift, the security implications of climate change received more media attention, giving this part of the discussion tremendous importance. 



The media, in general, frames climate change issues in light of underlying concerns such as capitalism's character, the connection between nature and culture, the social process of identifying problems, and societal transition in reaction to climate change. 


The most frequent frameworks utilized in contentious scientific tales are progress, conflict, general risk, and the interaction between market incentives and regulation. 

These frameworks suggest that science and technology are to blame for social consequences. 

When the news media uses the phrase "climate change" instead of "global warming," citizens are more likely to disassociate themselves from the causes, effects, and responsibilities for addressing climate change. 



People, according to Lakoff, subconsciously reject information that seem to fall outside their worldview. 


A person's frame, which is frequently formed by ideals taught in infancy, causes him or her to perceive just that part of the world that supports his or her beliefs, while ignoring contradictory facts and arguments. 

By portraying manmade climate change as an illogical faith-based religion and its proponents as religious fanatics who are intolerant of criticism, British media articles undercut the scientific standing of climate change. 

Some tales make fun of climate change by referring to ‘‘green" activities as atonement or sacrifice. 

The religious metaphor stifles productive discussion by stressing morality and how climate change is addressed, as well as diverting focus away from scientific facts and hypotheses. 

When news framing of contentious science incorporates a political conflict frame, it may influence perceptions of research ethics, but not when it employs a scientific advancement frame. 



People who think science is ethically neutral see research as being more helpful. 


Individuals with a greater self-reported interest in and exposure to science are more likely to evaluate the study as credible. 

A message must adapt its arguments to fit inside the person's current context to persuade a skeptic that climate change is an issue deserving of attention. 

To better explain how the changing climate negatively impacts America's economic health, national security, and prosperity, the phrase "climate change" should be substituted with "climate security" to better convey climate change concepts and policies to political conservatives. 

The goal of cap-and-trade policies could be emphasized, to ‘‘harness the power of the market." By emphasizing clean ‘‘energy advancement," negative connotations associated with reducing emissions and economic growth could be avoided, and the goal of cap-and-trade policies could be emphasized, to ‘‘harness the power of the market." 



The press plays an important role in educating the public about climate change research and policy. 


Interview source selection, presentation and assessment of competing views, and scientific uncertainty interpretations are all part of the framing of climate change coverage. 

Climate stories have a complex, dynamic, and nonlinear impact on public opinion, politics, public comprehension, and action. 

For many journalists, the subject of climate change is new, complicated, and easy to misunderstand. 

‘‘If we do not have a good understanding of the foundations of the climate issue, we risk providing our viewers with a set of views that is outmoded, driven by spin, or just incorrect," said BBC journalists Richard Black and Roger Harrabin. 



Climate change tales have evolved throughout time to define social, political, and cultural problems in terms of different leaders' political objectives. 


Power mobilization, the public realm, and personal involvement were recognized as three key themes in this coverage by Carvalho and Burgess. 

Political repercussions and scientific frameworks have been the most common frames in climate change reportage. 



Elite Western media often define climate change in terms of regulatory frameworks, political limitations, and economic motivations, rather than questioning or distinguishing existing evidence. 


The media frameworks in this coverage are shaped by intricate interactions among scientists, policymakers, and the general public. 

The way climate change research is presented to the public is heavily influenced by wire service articles. 



‘‘Carbon footprint" and ‘‘carbon finance" are two clusters of ‘‘carbon compounds," popular catchphrases that concentrate on money, lifestyle, and attitudes. 


These expressions are used as communication strategies in the context of climate change mitigation. 

After peaking during the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference sessions in Copenhagen, global news coverage of climate change has drastically decreased. 

This decrease may have happened as a result of news organizations' need to give coverage to a slew of other important topics vying for attention. 



According to the public arenas hypothesis, the general public, political players, and news organizations can only focus on a few issues at a time. 


As one problem becomes more prominent, other others get less attention. 

The carrying capacity of particular media channels limits the number of public venues accessible for coverage on any given day. 

When climate coverage concentrates on a single element of the issue, it attracts greater attention. 

The scientific doubt frame, for example, appeals to those who do not want to change, while the national security frame may motivate personal action among the same people. 

Although animal enthusiasts may be drawn to the polar bear frame, few people have actually seen a polar bear or would notice if it were extinct.



The financial framework portrays climate change as a business opportunity or explains the costs and rewards of mitigation versus inactivity. 



Ones presented in terms of economics and losses, on the other hand, perform no better in promoting the adoption of sustainable practices than messages framed in terms of the environment and benefits. 

While a disaster framing may make individuals feel powerless, a justice or equity frame may empower people. 

Weather and renewable energy are two major elements that often occur in both fearful and inspiring depictions of climate change. 



In the United States, climate change coverage has mainly been limited to particular occurrences, such as extreme weather, rather than continuing problems. 


According to a content study of a decade of nightly news programs on energy and environmental news themes, severe weather is a common theme in both Canada and the United States, with the United States placing a somewhat higher emphasis on severe weather occurrences. 

Climate change news in Canada has taken a more critical tone than similar coverage in the United States. 

Granger causality studies show that catastrophes and other weather occurrences have an impact on coverage of climate change, pollution, and related problems. 



Journalists are more likely to discuss climate change during unusually warm weather than during cold weather. 


Local temperatures in New York and Washington, DC, for example, have been linked to the frequency with which climate problems are discussed. 

Positive frames are more likely than negative frames to encourage active involvement with climate change problems, while negative frames may lead to disengagement or fatalism. 

For example, the iconic picture of the Iwo Jima troops planting a tree instead of a flag appeared on the cover of Time magazine in April 2008, with the title "How to Win the War on Global Warming." In that issue, the framing of climate change by time ‘‘marks a significant change from previous emphasis on dread and looming catastrophe," says the author, ‘‘offering a fresh focus on national unity behind a shared struggle akin to the Great Depression, the Space Race, or World War II." 

Some media critics said the Time article crossed the line from impartiality to advocacy, while others claimed it offered more insight and depth than most climate change reports. 

More TV stations and in more depth have covered negative frames, such as projected climate change effects and scary figures, than positive frames, such as remedies, adaptation, or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 



Only a quarter of all climate change media articles in the United Kingdom have focused on solutions rather than issues. 


The most frequent media frameworks in climate change coverage are alarmism and modest acts, but both narratives may be misleading, inconsistent, and disempower the public. 

The Australian press coverage of climate change-related sea-level rise on the small island of Tuvalu was one example of negative framing. 

The tales often portrayed Tuvaluans as sad victims of environmental displacement, downplayed adaptation discourses for Tuvaluans and other low-lying island residents, and suppressed alternative Tuvaluan identities that emphasized resilience and ingenuity. 

Most Americans are only vaguely aware of the health consequences of climate change, according to a recent British Medical Journal editorial. 



Failure of the world's countries to effectively curb emissions would likely lead to a worldwide health disaster, according to the editorial. 


Most individuals, on the other hand, are more receptive to information on the possible health advantages of particular climate mitigation-related policy measures than to fundamental information about climate change's health hazards. 

By highlighting the health advantages of mitigation, the overall climate change issue may become more personally relevant, important, and comprehensible to the general population. 

The way climate change is covered in the news has an impact on how and if people react to it. 

Recent coverage has been marked by a disaster narrative that disempowers individuals, as well as a lack of relevance for viewers, insufficient attention paid to adaptation and the views of the poor, and a lack of reporting on cost-effective solutions to address climate change. 



Attention-getting variables such as climate issue indicators, high-profile international events, and climate scientific feedback all affect media and legislative attention to climate change. 


These variables boost problem visibility, draw attention to climate change, and encourage cross-agenda collaboration and partisan advantage in agenda formation. 

Individual individuals' political involvement with climate change problems may be shaped by media portrayals, which can shape their attitudes, nurture their dispositions to action or inactivity, and limit their political engagement. 

Climate change coverage, on the other hand, is often framed in terms of specific security or economic concerns by policymakers. 



Natural catastrophes exacerbated by the man-made impacts of climate change, for example, are often seen by policymakers as basic crises needing a clear response in terms of food, housing, and medical supplies. 


They seldom refer to climate-related disasters as man-made, complex crises in which humans are clearly to blame. 

The media has a tendency to confirm rather than alter people's views on climate change. 

The media may sometimes reflect as well as generate cultural concern or viewpoint. 

Coverage may gradually foster a certain way of seeing at the world or how society should prioritize its objectives over time. 



The publication of papers in prominent journals, governmental decisions, political disputes, or public protests are all common triggers for media attention in scientific problems. 


Because of the inherent dramatic appeal of these tales, coverage of these subjects may include sensationalism or scaremongering. 

A story's images and narrative structure are more engaging than the logic or explanations included inside a media piece. 

When media attention, framing, and sourcing shifts at critical stages of scientific, political, and policy development, factors may combine to highlight some aspects of a science dispute over others. 

Political and media attention is thus gained, maintained, or lost on the subject. 



Controlling media attention to a problem while presenting it in positive terms is an important part of effective policymaking. 


These two features of media coverage reflect and influence where, by whom, and with what results an issue is resolved. 

The way an issue is presented and linked to policy choices is determined throughout time by cyclical waves in media attention and historical changes. 

The mediated issue creation model takes into consideration the kind of policy arena in which discussion takes place, strategic players' media lobbying efforts, the journalistic requirement for narrative structure, and the rivalry for attention from other problems across policy and media settings. 

The kind of journalist given coverage and the amount of attention from opinion pages are both related variables. 

The elite US press has reported on climate change in response to spectacular occurrences that have triggered issue-attention cycles. 



Climate change has lost much of its perceived dramatic narrative value, which prompted journalists to cover it in the past. 


Journalists used to be able to create news sagas that they could follow over time because of open political strife, personality conflicts, and disputed assertions about dangers. 

The ups and downs in attention are mostly driven by spectacular political events. 

The audience's reaction is also influenced by how the current phase of the issue is presented. 



The public's attention to a problem usually goes through five phases. 


  • The pre-problem, startled discovery, and euphoric excitement phases of the Downs' issue-attention cycle are followed by slow awareness of the cost, gradual decrease of strong public interest, and post-problem stages. 
  • A issue has not yet grabbed the public's attention in the pre-problem stage. 
  • The dangers are well-known among experts, but the knowledge is not broadly communicated. 
  • Prior to 1988, climate change coverage was at the pre-problem stage. 
  • Dramatic occurrences make the public aware of the issue and concerned about it in the second stage, alarmed discovery and ecstatic excitement. 



When additional news hooks for climate change stories appeared in the late 1980s, the public grew more concerned. 


When claimants recognize the expenses of dealing with the issue in the third stage, they gradually realize the cost. 

In the early 1990s, a unified group of climate skeptics started to question scientific conclusions concerning human climate change. 



When important actors get disillusioned about what would be needed to properly address the issue, the fourth stage begins, and crises are normalized via denial or boredom. 


This scenario may have contributed to the mid-1990s decrease in climate change coverage. 

The subject “moves into a lengthy limbo — a twilight zone of lower attention or spasmodic reoccurrences of interest... [and the topic] once raised to national prominence may intermittently regain popular interest”. 

The issue-attention cycle may not apply to climate change since it has deteriorated, new problems have arisen, and new activist organizations have formed to keep the issue alive.




~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan


You may also want read more about Global Climate Change here.



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