7 Science (and Policy) Friction: How Mass Media Shape US American Climate Discourses

in Cultural Dynamics of Climate Change and the Environment in Northern America
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In the context of the US approach to climate science and policy, this chapter explores the cultural politics embedded in the processes of how the mass media shapes climate change discourses. These cultural politics are explored through a critical discussion of the claims-makers that get media ‘air time’, the power-laden storytelling of media reporting, a potted history of US reporting on climate change and, finally, a newer form of climate storytelling through public opinion polling. The chapter argues, amongst other things, that mass media reporting and discussions of climate change and climate change science work to inform—at various times and places paradoxically—but also obfuscate and thus complicate climate science policy and its associated cultural politics. Overall, we suggest that in the US, media reporting on climate change—which must be fully contextualised in the macro and micro power relations that co-create and inform it—has helped address, analyse and discuss climate-related issues but has not and cannot at all answer them.

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