Tag Archives: Media

Royal goings-on freeze out climate

 EMBARGOED till 2301 GMT on Thursday 23 May The major US news broadcasters are hot on stories about the British royal family, but media monitoring research shows that they are still left cold by climate change – despite Prince Charles’s dire warnings LONDON, 23 May − Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, made one of his strongest speeches yet on the dangers of a warming planet when he warned this month that climate change is “the greatest risk we have ever faced”. Action must be taken now, the Prince said,  because the risk of doing nothing is “too great”. It is therefore a little ironic to look at the latest results from a study by the monitoring organisation Media Matters for America and find that the goings-on of the British royal family – but not their comments on the dire state of the planet – feature far more prominently on the major US networks than any topic related to climate change. “Even during the warmest year on record in the US, the nightly news programmes combined devoted only 12 full segments to climate change,” Media Matters reports. “By contrast, these programmes dedicated over seven times more coverage to the royals in 2012.” One programme, ABC World News, devoted 43 segments to the British royal family in 2012 and only one to climate change, says Media Matters. Earlier this month, as scientists announced the amount of CO² in the atmosphere had gone beyond 400 parts per million, two of the major US news programmes ignored the story, preferring instead to cover the visit to the country of Prince Harry, the younger son of Prince Charles. “In 2012, the US experienced record-breaking heat, a historic drought, massive wildfires in the West, and Hurricane Sandy,” Media Matters says.  “Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice extent shattered the previous record low and the Greenland ice sheet saw the greatest melt in recorded history…

“Broadcast news outlets devoted very little time to climate change”

“Yet despite these illustrations of climate change, the broadcast news outlets devoted very little time to climate change in 2012, following a downward trend since 2009.” Evidence suggests the paucity of reporting on climate change is not limited to the US alone. An ongoing study of various media outlets around the world by the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado-Boulder charts global climate change media coverage, noting a peak at the Copenhagen climate summit in late 2009. A separate study  found that more than 3,200 climate-related stories appeared in the world’s mainstream newspapers concerning events at the ill-fated Copenhagen meeting. By the time of the climate summit in Durban two years later, the number of stories had shrunk to a quarter of that amount. Meanwhile, the scientific consensus on the causes and impacts of climate change seems never to have been stronger.

Public perceptions changing

Despite the lack of media coverage, it seems that public perceptions about climate change are also changing − perhaps influenced by a rise in extreme weather events around the world. The subject of climate change and its causes continues to be hotly debated in the US. However, an analysis carried out late last year by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that nearly 70% of Americans now say there is solid evidence that the world has been getting warmer over recent decades, with more than 40% saying it is caused by human activity – up from 34% in 2010. A petition, which already has more than 70,000 signatures, has been organised by Media Matters, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. It urges the major broadcast networks to give more attention to climate change and allow scientists the opportunity to explain the connections between humanity activity, climate change and extreme weather events. − Climate News Network

 EMBARGOED till 2301 GMT on Thursday 23 May The major US news broadcasters are hot on stories about the British royal family, but media monitoring research shows that they are still left cold by climate change – despite Prince Charles’s dire warnings LONDON, 23 May − Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, made one of his strongest speeches yet on the dangers of a warming planet when he warned this month that climate change is “the greatest risk we have ever faced”. Action must be taken now, the Prince said,  because the risk of doing nothing is “too great”. It is therefore a little ironic to look at the latest results from a study by the monitoring organisation Media Matters for America and find that the goings-on of the British royal family – but not their comments on the dire state of the planet – feature far more prominently on the major US networks than any topic related to climate change. “Even during the warmest year on record in the US, the nightly news programmes combined devoted only 12 full segments to climate change,” Media Matters reports. “By contrast, these programmes dedicated over seven times more coverage to the royals in 2012.” One programme, ABC World News, devoted 43 segments to the British royal family in 2012 and only one to climate change, says Media Matters. Earlier this month, as scientists announced the amount of CO² in the atmosphere had gone beyond 400 parts per million, two of the major US news programmes ignored the story, preferring instead to cover the visit to the country of Prince Harry, the younger son of Prince Charles. “In 2012, the US experienced record-breaking heat, a historic drought, massive wildfires in the West, and Hurricane Sandy,” Media Matters says.  “Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice extent shattered the previous record low and the Greenland ice sheet saw the greatest melt in recorded history…

“Broadcast news outlets devoted very little time to climate change”

“Yet despite these illustrations of climate change, the broadcast news outlets devoted very little time to climate change in 2012, following a downward trend since 2009.” Evidence suggests the paucity of reporting on climate change is not limited to the US alone. An ongoing study of various media outlets around the world by the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado-Boulder charts global climate change media coverage, noting a peak at the Copenhagen climate summit in late 2009. A separate study  found that more than 3,200 climate-related stories appeared in the world’s mainstream newspapers concerning events at the ill-fated Copenhagen meeting. By the time of the climate summit in Durban two years later, the number of stories had shrunk to a quarter of that amount. Meanwhile, the scientific consensus on the causes and impacts of climate change seems never to have been stronger.

Public perceptions changing

Despite the lack of media coverage, it seems that public perceptions about climate change are also changing − perhaps influenced by a rise in extreme weather events around the world. The subject of climate change and its causes continues to be hotly debated in the US. However, an analysis carried out late last year by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that nearly 70% of Americans now say there is solid evidence that the world has been getting warmer over recent decades, with more than 40% saying it is caused by human activity – up from 34% in 2010. A petition, which already has more than 70,000 signatures, has been organised by Media Matters, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. It urges the major broadcast networks to give more attention to climate change and allow scientists the opportunity to explain the connections between humanity activity, climate change and extreme weather events. − Climate News Network

Oh no! It's Climategate Three

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Saturday 16 March
 In 2009, shortly before the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, hackers published a haul of climate scientists’ emails. That was Climategate One. Two years on came another batch, and a few days ago a third. Do they tell us anything about the science – or, perhaps, about the hackers? This Comment offers a few possible pointers.

LONDON, 16 March – “Black ops” is what the military call it – using false radio messages, news releases and newspapers, leaflets, and creating conspiracy theories so the enemy is confused, demoralized and loses the stomach for the fight.

It worked so well in World War II that, in every conflict since, all sides have used the dark arts. Many of their methods and secrets are classified, too effective a weapon to allow to fall into the hands of the enemy.

In a sophisticated world, however, the military are not alone in using black ops. They have excellent propaganda value in the commercial world too, winning a war without a shot being fired.

A classic example has emerged in the last few days. A new leak of hundreds of thousands of emails between climate scientists is revealed. The climate deniers are having a field day. A new Climategate looms (see Watts Up With That?, which describes itself as “The world’s most viewed site on global warming and climate change”).

Just to recap. In the battle over whether climate change matters and whether the world should do anything about it, nothing has recently been so potent as the leaking of emails between scientists.

These are alleged (by climate deniers and others) to show a conspiracy between scientists to cook the evidence and leave out inconvenient facts in order to falsely show that man-made climate change is happening.

The allegation is, successive inquiries have shown, a load of bunk, but that did not matter. The damage had already been done, doubt had been sown, and successive rounds of climate talks failed.

‘Brilliant’ memo

 

What was startling about the whole saga was that the black ops side of it went almost unnoticed. The whole leak was put down to climate deniers hacking into private emails “in the public interest” to unearth the “conspiracy”. Therefore, the argument ran, it was somehow a legitimate quest – at least there were no condemnations of what is both illegal and disgraceful behaviour.

If you were looking for a motive for the hackers, it could be to further the interests of the fossil fuel lobby, which wants no action on climate change. But not many journalists – or anyone else – bothered to look.

But scroll forward to this week. Along with the thousands more (probably innocuous) leaked emails came an extraordinary memo from the alleged leaker, anonymous of course, but showing all the brilliance of the best black ops in the business.

Signing himself/herself Mr FOIA, (Mr Freedom of Information Act), the leaker claims to be an individual who is an insider blowing the whistle on a conspiracy to foist climate change on an unsuspecting world.

Although the memo is written in perfect English, it comes with a classic black ops style disclaimer that the writer is anything to do with North America. He claims not to have English as his first language, so implying that he is neither British nor American.

Later, to underline the point, he says there is “no conspiracy, no paid hackers, no Big Oil. The Republicans didn’t plot this.  USA politics is alien to me, neither am I from the UK.  There is life outside the Anglo-American sphere.”

Attacking legitimate science

 

Mr FOIA even shows he has feelings for the scientists he is accusing of a criminal conspiracy. He pleads with climate deniers everywhere to protect the privacy of the email senders “where their personal lives are concerned”, but asks the deniers to sift through all 220,000 of the emails for evidence of conspiracy, because he has not time to do it himself.

His motivation is entirely pure. He is not in anyone’s pay, but it is a matter of conscience. He is acting to prevent trillions of dollars that could be used for inventions to help mankind from being diverted to prevent climate change, which is not happening anyway.

This is his motivation: “It’s easy for many of us in the western world to accept a tiny green inconvenience and then wallow in that righteous feeling, surrounded by our ‘clean technology’ and energy that is only slightly more expensive if adequately subsidized.

“Those millions and billions already struggling with malnutrition, sickness, violence, illiteracy, etc. don’t have that luxury. The price of ‘climate protection’ with its cumulative and collateral effects is bound to destroy and debilitate in great numbers, for decades and generations.”

So there you have it. Mr FOIA is trying to save the poor. Nothing is further from his mind than the fact that his invention of a gigantic climate conspiracy, and his attack on legitimate science, serves the interests of big oil in particular, and all polluting industries, far more than it would ever help the poor.

All the climate deniers, gullible to a man and woman, have seized on it with glee. To them Mr FOIA is a selfless hero who should get a medal.  It is magic stuff. It is a classic of Black Ops. It ought to be in the training manual of every secret service on the planet. – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Saturday 16 March
 In 2009, shortly before the UN climate talks in Copenhagen, hackers published a haul of climate scientists’ emails. That was Climategate One. Two years on came another batch, and a few days ago a third. Do they tell us anything about the science – or, perhaps, about the hackers? This Comment offers a few possible pointers.

LONDON, 16 March – “Black ops” is what the military call it – using false radio messages, news releases and newspapers, leaflets, and creating conspiracy theories so the enemy is confused, demoralized and loses the stomach for the fight.

It worked so well in World War II that, in every conflict since, all sides have used the dark arts. Many of their methods and secrets are classified, too effective a weapon to allow to fall into the hands of the enemy.

In a sophisticated world, however, the military are not alone in using black ops. They have excellent propaganda value in the commercial world too, winning a war without a shot being fired.

A classic example has emerged in the last few days. A new leak of hundreds of thousands of emails between climate scientists is revealed. The climate deniers are having a field day. A new Climategate looms (see Watts Up With That?, which describes itself as “The world’s most viewed site on global warming and climate change”).

Just to recap. In the battle over whether climate change matters and whether the world should do anything about it, nothing has recently been so potent as the leaking of emails between scientists.

These are alleged (by climate deniers and others) to show a conspiracy between scientists to cook the evidence and leave out inconvenient facts in order to falsely show that man-made climate change is happening.

The allegation is, successive inquiries have shown, a load of bunk, but that did not matter. The damage had already been done, doubt had been sown, and successive rounds of climate talks failed.

‘Brilliant’ memo

 

What was startling about the whole saga was that the black ops side of it went almost unnoticed. The whole leak was put down to climate deniers hacking into private emails “in the public interest” to unearth the “conspiracy”. Therefore, the argument ran, it was somehow a legitimate quest – at least there were no condemnations of what is both illegal and disgraceful behaviour.

If you were looking for a motive for the hackers, it could be to further the interests of the fossil fuel lobby, which wants no action on climate change. But not many journalists – or anyone else – bothered to look.

But scroll forward to this week. Along with the thousands more (probably innocuous) leaked emails came an extraordinary memo from the alleged leaker, anonymous of course, but showing all the brilliance of the best black ops in the business.

Signing himself/herself Mr FOIA, (Mr Freedom of Information Act), the leaker claims to be an individual who is an insider blowing the whistle on a conspiracy to foist climate change on an unsuspecting world.

Although the memo is written in perfect English, it comes with a classic black ops style disclaimer that the writer is anything to do with North America. He claims not to have English as his first language, so implying that he is neither British nor American.

Later, to underline the point, he says there is “no conspiracy, no paid hackers, no Big Oil. The Republicans didn’t plot this.  USA politics is alien to me, neither am I from the UK.  There is life outside the Anglo-American sphere.”

Attacking legitimate science

 

Mr FOIA even shows he has feelings for the scientists he is accusing of a criminal conspiracy. He pleads with climate deniers everywhere to protect the privacy of the email senders “where their personal lives are concerned”, but asks the deniers to sift through all 220,000 of the emails for evidence of conspiracy, because he has not time to do it himself.

His motivation is entirely pure. He is not in anyone’s pay, but it is a matter of conscience. He is acting to prevent trillions of dollars that could be used for inventions to help mankind from being diverted to prevent climate change, which is not happening anyway.

This is his motivation: “It’s easy for many of us in the western world to accept a tiny green inconvenience and then wallow in that righteous feeling, surrounded by our ‘clean technology’ and energy that is only slightly more expensive if adequately subsidized.

“Those millions and billions already struggling with malnutrition, sickness, violence, illiteracy, etc. don’t have that luxury. The price of ‘climate protection’ with its cumulative and collateral effects is bound to destroy and debilitate in great numbers, for decades and generations.”

So there you have it. Mr FOIA is trying to save the poor. Nothing is further from his mind than the fact that his invention of a gigantic climate conspiracy, and his attack on legitimate science, serves the interests of big oil in particular, and all polluting industries, far more than it would ever help the poor.

All the climate deniers, gullible to a man and woman, have seized on it with glee. To them Mr FOIA is a selfless hero who should get a medal.  It is magic stuff. It is a classic of Black Ops. It ought to be in the training manual of every secret service on the planet. – Climate News Network

Book Review: Media Meets Climate

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Friday 18 January If climate change is not receiving the media coverage it deserves, a new book says, then much of the responsibility must rest with the media themselves LONDON, 18 January – Environmental journalists and writers on climate change have had a roller coaster ride over the last decade. Back at the turn of the century the environment correspondent was something of an oddity, often found in the dimmer reaches of a newsroom, squeezed into a space near the broom cupboard and derisively referred to by more mainstream colleagues as a ‘tree hugger’ – or worse. Then, spurred on by events such as the long, hot European summer of 2003, climate change suddenly hit the global news agenda in a big way. The warnings contained in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were headline news. The 2006 Stern Review looking at the economic impacts of climate change brought the issue on to the financial pages. The media tumult reached its height with the Copenhagen summit in late 2009 – a meeting rather immodestly billed by many news outlets as one that would determine the future of the planet. Then, after the debacle in the Danish capital, all went quiet. The environment correspondent went back to the broom cupboard as what were deemed far weightier matters took hold: the global economic system was near collapse, China and India were on the rise, there were celebrities to worry about and football matches to be won.

Responsible journalism?

Media Meets Climate looks at coverage of successive international climate conferences and questions the role and responsibility of journalism in communicating issues of climate change. The book’s editors lay their cards on the table: “Our work is based on the conviction that climate change is the global challenge of the 21st century.” Climate change is a global issue but so far international institutions like the UN have proved woefully inadequate at tackling it, with any meaningful progress garroted by narrow national interests or the activities of powerful corporations and lobby groups. Successive summits have bred only pessimism. “In how many ways can you write that nothing’s happening?” asked one frustrated journalist during the 2011 climate summit in Durban. Writers in this book point out that journalism is also in some ways responsible for the mess we’re in. In the interest of so-called balance, climate change contrarians have often been given far too much publicity. The media has not kept pace with globalisation. Media organisations still think in terms of the domestic rather than a global audience. Even those who claim to be international – the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN or The Guardian, FT, Wall Street Journal or China Daily – are influenced in the main by national considerations. “The fact still remains that most of the global media landscape is still made up of nationally anchored media outlets” say the authors.

Rapid slide in coverage

Climate change can be a hard story both to tell and to sell. Scientists are often not the best communicators. Journalists can over-simplify and sensationalise. Summits get lost in a noxious cloud of acronyms.  Climate change is at times vague, full of possibles and maybes – not the sort of thing to get an editor’s blood racing. Dramatic pictures of bomb blasts and plane crashes are splashed across the front pages, but pictures of CO2 emissions just don’t make the grade. This is an exhaustive analysis and, at times, it makes for gloomy reading. We are taken through ‘Climategate’ in the UK, the “profoundly partisan” nature of Australia’s newspapers reporting on the introduction of a carbon tax, and the activities of the naysayers and deniers. The ups and downs of media coverage on climate change are noted: the authors say more than 3,200 stories appeared in the world’s mainstream newspapers concerning events in Copenhagen. At the climate summit in Durban two years later, the number of stories shrank to a quarter that amount. Media attention might have moved elsewhere, yet with each passing day the climate change issue is becoming ever more serious. “Must try harder” is writ large on the media report card. – Climate News Network Media Meets Climate: The Global Challenge for Journalism By Elisabeth Eide and Risto Kunelius (eds.) Published by Nordicom, University of Gothenburg, 2012

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Friday 18 January If climate change is not receiving the media coverage it deserves, a new book says, then much of the responsibility must rest with the media themselves LONDON, 18 January – Environmental journalists and writers on climate change have had a roller coaster ride over the last decade. Back at the turn of the century the environment correspondent was something of an oddity, often found in the dimmer reaches of a newsroom, squeezed into a space near the broom cupboard and derisively referred to by more mainstream colleagues as a ‘tree hugger’ – or worse. Then, spurred on by events such as the long, hot European summer of 2003, climate change suddenly hit the global news agenda in a big way. The warnings contained in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were headline news. The 2006 Stern Review looking at the economic impacts of climate change brought the issue on to the financial pages. The media tumult reached its height with the Copenhagen summit in late 2009 – a meeting rather immodestly billed by many news outlets as one that would determine the future of the planet. Then, after the debacle in the Danish capital, all went quiet. The environment correspondent went back to the broom cupboard as what were deemed far weightier matters took hold: the global economic system was near collapse, China and India were on the rise, there were celebrities to worry about and football matches to be won.

Responsible journalism?

Media Meets Climate looks at coverage of successive international climate conferences and questions the role and responsibility of journalism in communicating issues of climate change. The book’s editors lay their cards on the table: “Our work is based on the conviction that climate change is the global challenge of the 21st century.” Climate change is a global issue but so far international institutions like the UN have proved woefully inadequate at tackling it, with any meaningful progress garroted by narrow national interests or the activities of powerful corporations and lobby groups. Successive summits have bred only pessimism. “In how many ways can you write that nothing’s happening?” asked one frustrated journalist during the 2011 climate summit in Durban. Writers in this book point out that journalism is also in some ways responsible for the mess we’re in. In the interest of so-called balance, climate change contrarians have often been given far too much publicity. The media has not kept pace with globalisation. Media organisations still think in terms of the domestic rather than a global audience. Even those who claim to be international – the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN or The Guardian, FT, Wall Street Journal or China Daily – are influenced in the main by national considerations. “The fact still remains that most of the global media landscape is still made up of nationally anchored media outlets” say the authors.

Rapid slide in coverage

Climate change can be a hard story both to tell and to sell. Scientists are often not the best communicators. Journalists can over-simplify and sensationalise. Summits get lost in a noxious cloud of acronyms.  Climate change is at times vague, full of possibles and maybes – not the sort of thing to get an editor’s blood racing. Dramatic pictures of bomb blasts and plane crashes are splashed across the front pages, but pictures of CO2 emissions just don’t make the grade. This is an exhaustive analysis and, at times, it makes for gloomy reading. We are taken through ‘Climategate’ in the UK, the “profoundly partisan” nature of Australia’s newspapers reporting on the introduction of a carbon tax, and the activities of the naysayers and deniers. The ups and downs of media coverage on climate change are noted: the authors say more than 3,200 stories appeared in the world’s mainstream newspapers concerning events in Copenhagen. At the climate summit in Durban two years later, the number of stories shrank to a quarter that amount. Media attention might have moved elsewhere, yet with each passing day the climate change issue is becoming ever more serious. “Must try harder” is writ large on the media report card. – Climate News Network Media Meets Climate: The Global Challenge for Journalism By Elisabeth Eide and Risto Kunelius (eds.) Published by Nordicom, University of Gothenburg, 2012

'Uncertain' climate coverage feeds confusion

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Sunday 13 January
A  study of British beliefs about climate change suggests confusion, distrust and growing lack of interest. Neither politicians nor journalists emerge with much credit: scientists are the most trusted group.

LONDON, Sunday 13 January – In 2011/12 the Glasgow University Media Group and Chatham House (the UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs) undertook a qualitative study of British audiences’ beliefs and behaviour over climate change and energy security, using focus groups and interviews.

Their aim was to examine the specific triggers for changes in patterns of understanding and attitude – and the conditions under which these lead to changes in behaviour. Their report is entitled Climate Change and Energy Security: Assessing the Impact of Information and its Delivery on Attitudes and Behaviour.

The authors explain: “…the sample sizes were small and the purpose was not to collect data which would be generalised to whole populations. Instead the aim was to provide an insight into how beliefs are formed and the way in which opinions and behavioural commitments can be modified…”  The research included 100 participants.

On climate change the study concludes that there is “widespread public confusion”, reflecting how journalists treat it as a topic riven by uncertainty. Most respondents showed only a vague understanding of climate science and believed it to be inconsistent.

Few trusted politicians, yet “the continuing politicisation” of climate change increased confusion and distrust and drove the topic down the media agenda. This in turn encouraged people to think that climate change deserved a lower priority, with economic problems seen as more urgent.

A “widespread culture of cynicism and distrust” has led, the authors say, to feelings of powerlessness generally.

The one group they found to possess any credibility includes scientists, academics and researchers (to many of whom the finding may come as a surprise), whom they urge to force climate change onto the political agenda.

“One former cynic reported that… the move to renewables began to look like a ‘no brainer’”

The researchers found low awareness of energy security issues – but once the term was defined their respondents were worried that it was not higher up the political agenda.

They did not make the link with possible solutions like renewable energies, which most agreed are currently not enough to meet the UK’s needs. Negative coverage of renewables is beginning to create uncertainty about them.

Nuclear power evokes “a general openness”, though that is tempered with wariness caused largely by the coverage of the Fukushima accident in the 2011 tsunami.

The respondents revealed widespread discontent with the thought of the UK depending on gas imports, coupled with a general belief that there are further exploitable reserves of gas in the North Sea.

The UK’s energy companies are not trusted, being seen as another example of corruption at the top of society.

Part of the research involved testing respondents’ reaction to new information, through “television and radio news reports, newspaper articles and online content set in the future”. One of these scenarios portrayed a future UK in which a shortage of natural gas had left 20 million Britons with a loss of power.

The authors note: “One former cynic reported that, after listening to the report, the move to renewables began to look like a ‘no brainer’”. – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Sunday 13 January
A  study of British beliefs about climate change suggests confusion, distrust and growing lack of interest. Neither politicians nor journalists emerge with much credit: scientists are the most trusted group.

LONDON, Sunday 13 January – In 2011/12 the Glasgow University Media Group and Chatham House (the UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs) undertook a qualitative study of British audiences’ beliefs and behaviour over climate change and energy security, using focus groups and interviews.

Their aim was to examine the specific triggers for changes in patterns of understanding and attitude – and the conditions under which these lead to changes in behaviour. Their report is entitled Climate Change and Energy Security: Assessing the Impact of Information and its Delivery on Attitudes and Behaviour.

The authors explain: “…the sample sizes were small and the purpose was not to collect data which would be generalised to whole populations. Instead the aim was to provide an insight into how beliefs are formed and the way in which opinions and behavioural commitments can be modified…”  The research included 100 participants.

On climate change the study concludes that there is “widespread public confusion”, reflecting how journalists treat it as a topic riven by uncertainty. Most respondents showed only a vague understanding of climate science and believed it to be inconsistent.

Few trusted politicians, yet “the continuing politicisation” of climate change increased confusion and distrust and drove the topic down the media agenda. This in turn encouraged people to think that climate change deserved a lower priority, with economic problems seen as more urgent.

A “widespread culture of cynicism and distrust” has led, the authors say, to feelings of powerlessness generally.

The one group they found to possess any credibility includes scientists, academics and researchers (to many of whom the finding may come as a surprise), whom they urge to force climate change onto the political agenda.

“One former cynic reported that… the move to renewables began to look like a ‘no brainer’”

The researchers found low awareness of energy security issues – but once the term was defined their respondents were worried that it was not higher up the political agenda.

They did not make the link with possible solutions like renewable energies, which most agreed are currently not enough to meet the UK’s needs. Negative coverage of renewables is beginning to create uncertainty about them.

Nuclear power evokes “a general openness”, though that is tempered with wariness caused largely by the coverage of the Fukushima accident in the 2011 tsunami.

The respondents revealed widespread discontent with the thought of the UK depending on gas imports, coupled with a general belief that there are further exploitable reserves of gas in the North Sea.

The UK’s energy companies are not trusted, being seen as another example of corruption at the top of society.

Part of the research involved testing respondents’ reaction to new information, through “television and radio news reports, newspaper articles and online content set in the future”. One of these scenarios portrayed a future UK in which a shortage of natural gas had left 20 million Britons with a loss of power.

The authors note: “One former cynic reported that, after listening to the report, the move to renewables began to look like a ‘no brainer’”. – Climate News Network

‘Uncertain’ climate coverage feeds confusion

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Sunday 13 January A  study of British beliefs about climate change suggests confusion, distrust and growing lack of interest. Neither politicians nor journalists emerge with much credit: scientists are the most trusted group. LONDON, Sunday 13 January – In 2011/12 the Glasgow University Media Group and Chatham House (the UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs) undertook a qualitative study of British audiences’ beliefs and behaviour over climate change and energy security, using focus groups and interviews. Their aim was to examine the specific triggers for changes in patterns of understanding and attitude – and the conditions under which these lead to changes in behaviour. Their report is entitled Climate Change and Energy Security: Assessing the Impact of Information and its Delivery on Attitudes and Behaviour. The authors explain: “…the sample sizes were small and the purpose was not to collect data which would be generalised to whole populations. Instead the aim was to provide an insight into how beliefs are formed and the way in which opinions and behavioural commitments can be modified…”  The research included 100 participants. On climate change the study concludes that there is “widespread public confusion”, reflecting how journalists treat it as a topic riven by uncertainty. Most respondents showed only a vague understanding of climate science and believed it to be inconsistent. Few trusted politicians, yet “the continuing politicisation” of climate change increased confusion and distrust and drove the topic down the media agenda. This in turn encouraged people to think that climate change deserved a lower priority, with economic problems seen as more urgent. A “widespread culture of cynicism and distrust” has led, the authors say, to feelings of powerlessness generally. The one group they found to possess any credibility includes scientists, academics and researchers (to many of whom the finding may come as a surprise), whom they urge to force climate change onto the political agenda.

“One former cynic reported that… the move to renewables began to look like a ‘no brainer’”

The researchers found low awareness of energy security issues – but once the term was defined their respondents were worried that it was not higher up the political agenda. They did not make the link with possible solutions like renewable energies, which most agreed are currently not enough to meet the UK’s needs. Negative coverage of renewables is beginning to create uncertainty about them. Nuclear power evokes “a general openness”, though that is tempered with wariness caused largely by the coverage of the Fukushima accident in the 2011 tsunami. The respondents revealed widespread discontent with the thought of the UK depending on gas imports, coupled with a general belief that there are further exploitable reserves of gas in the North Sea. The UK’s energy companies are not trusted, being seen as another example of corruption at the top of society. Part of the research involved testing respondents’ reaction to new information, through “television and radio news reports, newspaper articles and online content set in the future”. One of these scenarios portrayed a future UK in which a shortage of natural gas had left 20 million Britons with a loss of power. The authors note: “One former cynic reported that, after listening to the report, the move to renewables began to look like a ‘no brainer’”. – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 0001 GMT on Sunday 13 January A  study of British beliefs about climate change suggests confusion, distrust and growing lack of interest. Neither politicians nor journalists emerge with much credit: scientists are the most trusted group. LONDON, Sunday 13 January – In 2011/12 the Glasgow University Media Group and Chatham House (the UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs) undertook a qualitative study of British audiences’ beliefs and behaviour over climate change and energy security, using focus groups and interviews. Their aim was to examine the specific triggers for changes in patterns of understanding and attitude – and the conditions under which these lead to changes in behaviour. Their report is entitled Climate Change and Energy Security: Assessing the Impact of Information and its Delivery on Attitudes and Behaviour. The authors explain: “…the sample sizes were small and the purpose was not to collect data which would be generalised to whole populations. Instead the aim was to provide an insight into how beliefs are formed and the way in which opinions and behavioural commitments can be modified…”  The research included 100 participants. On climate change the study concludes that there is “widespread public confusion”, reflecting how journalists treat it as a topic riven by uncertainty. Most respondents showed only a vague understanding of climate science and believed it to be inconsistent. Few trusted politicians, yet “the continuing politicisation” of climate change increased confusion and distrust and drove the topic down the media agenda. This in turn encouraged people to think that climate change deserved a lower priority, with economic problems seen as more urgent. A “widespread culture of cynicism and distrust” has led, the authors say, to feelings of powerlessness generally. The one group they found to possess any credibility includes scientists, academics and researchers (to many of whom the finding may come as a surprise), whom they urge to force climate change onto the political agenda.

“One former cynic reported that… the move to renewables began to look like a ‘no brainer’”

The researchers found low awareness of energy security issues – but once the term was defined their respondents were worried that it was not higher up the political agenda. They did not make the link with possible solutions like renewable energies, which most agreed are currently not enough to meet the UK’s needs. Negative coverage of renewables is beginning to create uncertainty about them. Nuclear power evokes “a general openness”, though that is tempered with wariness caused largely by the coverage of the Fukushima accident in the 2011 tsunami. The respondents revealed widespread discontent with the thought of the UK depending on gas imports, coupled with a general belief that there are further exploitable reserves of gas in the North Sea. The UK’s energy companies are not trusted, being seen as another example of corruption at the top of society. Part of the research involved testing respondents’ reaction to new information, through “television and radio news reports, newspaper articles and online content set in the future”. One of these scenarios portrayed a future UK in which a shortage of natural gas had left 20 million Britons with a loss of power. The authors note: “One former cynic reported that, after listening to the report, the move to renewables began to look like a ‘no brainer’”. – Climate News Network