Sunday, March 2, 2014

Nature editorial says "we must not fall victim to ahistorical media" that mention the global warming pause, hiatus, or slowdown

An editorial published in the latest edition of Nature Climate Change claims "We must not fall victim to decontextualized and ahistorical"... "swirling media discourses of a global warming pause, or hiatus or slowdown, that gained momentum, especially in this past year." The word "ahistorical" is not a typo, it means "not concerned with or related to history."

The author finds a real hockey stick of media mentions of the global warming "pause" in 2013, and gives a shout out to skeptical bloggers Anthony Watts and Tom Nelson:
Blog posts and media stories in the years that followed (for example, Real Climate, Watts Up With That, Tom Nelson, Andrew Revkin at DotEarth and the New York Times) logically sought to better understand this trend.[of the "pause"] 
So while this meme had been circulating sporadically for a number of years before, media attention to this phenomenon really picked up steam in 2013. Basic searches of 'global warming' or 'climate change' and 'pause' or 'hiatus' — across 50 media sources in 20 countries over the past decade — show this trending in media discourse.
But, make no mistake, the author agrees with alarmist Mother Jones journalist "Chris Mooney [who] has pointed out: “Journalists take heed: Your coverage has consequences. All those media outlets who trumpeted the global warming 'pause' may now be partly responsible for a documented decrease in Americans' scientific understanding.”

So, take heed "Real Climate, Watts Up With That, Tom Nelson, & Andrew Revkin at DotEarth," by "logically seeking to better understand the pause," you "may now be partly responsible for a documented decrease in Americans' scientific understanding.”

A Ahistorical video on how 'deniers' view global warming:





Media discourse on the climate slowdown

  • Maxwell T. Boykoff  
  • Nature Climate Change   4  156–158   (2014)   doi:10.1038/nclimate2156
Published online
  26 February 2014
Excerpts:
In August 1968, protestors from the Students for a Democratic Society — an activist movement in the United States — repeatedly hurled the phrase 'the whole world is watching' outside the hotel in Chicago where the Democratic National Convention was being held. As Columbia University professor Todd Gitlin later documented in a book1 titled by the same phrase, media coverage of the clashes accompanying the refrain then served to draw wider visibility to their antiwar activities and claims. He found that implications from the media representations were twofold: first, coverage largely framed the protests as a fringe action promoted by marginalized actors; however, second, the increased media coverage of the Students for a Democratic Society actions actually boosted awareness and bolstered member enrolments in the student-led movement.
These insights from Gitlin, along with those of other scholars across a range of perspectives, help inform considerations of the interactions between climate science, policy, media and the public today. Specifically, these findings guide our thinking about the swirling media discourses of a global warming pause, or hiatus or slowdown, that gained momentum, especially in this past year.
Discourses are essentially sets of categories, ideas and concepts that give meaning to phenomena. Maarten Hajer has pointed out that they can “frame certain problems ... [and can] dominate the way a society conceptualizes the world2. Through media representations, framing processes have had important effects on marginalizing some discourses while contributing to the amplification of others. Among early media discourses that sought to explain this climate phenomenon, environmental scientist Bob Carter penned an op-ed in The Telegraph of London in 2006 called 'There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1998'3 where he pointed to University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit records of stalled global surface temperatures. Blog posts and media stories in the years that followed (for example, Real Climate, Watts Up With That, Tom Nelson, Andrew Revkin at DotEarth and the New York Times) logically sought to better understand this trend.
So while this meme had been circulating sporadically for a number of years before, media attention to this phenomenon really picked up steam in 2013. Basic searches of 'global warming' or 'climate change' and 'pause' or 'hiatus' — across 50 media sources in 20 countries over the past decade — show this trending in media discourse (Box 1).

Box 1: Trend in media discourse on the climate slowdown.

The Hockey Stick of media mentions of the 'pause' in global warming
The figure tracks coverage of 'climate change' or 'global warming' and 'pause' or 'hiatus' in headlines and lead paragraphs in 50 media sources across 20 countries and 6 continents over 10 years (January 2004 to December 2013) normalized by articles in each source per month. Initial searches were then followed up by manual readings to avoid peripheral treatment of these terms. For a few examples: a piece by Susan Delacourt from the Toronto Star starts with “Politicians insist it is possible to press the 'pause' switch on their own election campaigns. Today, Paul Martin appears at a climate-change conference in his capacity as Prime Minister...”18 and a column in the Hindustan Times uses these terms but by starting the piece “The Kyoto agreement belatedly came into effect after a hiatus of some seven years”19. The sources (grouped by country) are: Clarín (Argentina), The AgeThe AustralianDaily TelegraphCourier-Mail,Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), Globe and MailNational PostToronto Star (Canada),South China Morning Post (China), Prague Post (Czech Republic), Fiji Times (Fiji), Hindu,Hindustan TimesIndian ExpressThe Times of India (India), Irish Times (Ireland), Jerusalem PostJerusalem Report (Israel), Japan TimesYomiuri Shimbun (Japan), New Straits Times(Malaysia), Dominion PostNew Zealand HeraldThe Press (New Zealand), Nation (Pakistan),The Straits Times (Singapore), Financial MailBusiness Day (South Africa), Korea Herald,Korea Times (South Korea), El Pais (Spain), the Nation (Thailand), Daily ExpressSunday ExpressDaily MailMail on SundayGuardianObserverThe HeraldIndependentSunday IndependentMirrorSunday MirrorThe ScotsmanScotland on SundaySouth Wales Evening PostThe SunNews of the WorldThe TelegraphSunday TelegraphTimes,Sunday Times (UK), Daily NewsLos Angeles TimesThe New York TimesUSA TodayWall Street JournalThe Washington Post (USA).
Reduce
Increased media coverage of the global warming pause can be explained in part by how the issue has been framed. In working to explain the phenomenon using terms such as 'pause' and 'hiatus', this phrase then sets terms of engagement with wider questions of climate change through one indicator, that of global surface temperatures.
As readers here know, there are differences in the definitions of the terms 'climate change' and 'global warming'. While 'climate change' is a broader term that accounts for changes in many climate characteristics, such as rainfall, ice extent and sea levels, 'global warming' refers to a more specific facet of climate change: the increase in temperature over time. These discourses were also fuelled by active peer-reviewed research4 and in particular, the contributions of scientists such as James Hansen5 and Kevin Trenberth6 who sought to explain this slowdown or missing heat.
As the terms 'pause', 'slowdown' and 'hiatus' increasingly populated discussions in the public sphere, these terms then served to settle discursive attention on just one element of larger climate changes. And word choices matter: discourses are tethered to material realities and social practices7. From attempts by actors across the ideological spectrum seeking to call this phenomenon 'climate change' over 'global warming' (or vice versa)89 to struggles over the official naming of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, acts of discursive positioning critically shape (and are shaped by) perception and potential behavioural change.
Disagreement and dissention certainly have value in reshaping understanding. However, when these are not effectively placed in context, our understanding through framing is only partial. So along with considering how the pause was framed, it is critically important to place it into the context of a dynamic public arena10. This helps to map out how social problems rise and fall, to take into account arenas where social problem definitions are articulated and contested, as well as assess the positions of the actors who make claims about them. In tandem with considerations of framing, this process of contextualization helps to appraise institutional, political and cultural factors that influence possible problem formulations.
Furthermore, these various factors intersect with the mobilization of journalistic values and pressures. For example, journalist Stephanie Paige Ogburn attributed the discursive traction of the climate change pause in media accounts in part to the “lure of a captivating headline”11. As one journalistic norm, personalization strongly influenced reporting on the 'pause' — essentially telling climate stories by way of individual actions. In particular, social movements from the ideological right seized on this notion of a pause or hiatus in the public sphere and amplified claims of a global warming myth in the process1213.
Returning to Gitlin's book, even though these outlier claims were overwhelmingly dismissed through mainstream media accounts, coverage served to spotlight contrarian individuals and climate counter-movement pressure-group messages, while influencing larger public opinion. In other words, media attention on the slowdown may have inadvertently swelled the ranks of adherents to contrarian views of wider climate changes. While recent polling has found that the proportion of US citizens who believe that climate change is not happening has increased by seven percentage points since April 2013, study co-authors Anthony Leiserowitz and Edward Maibach have both commented that media coverage of the pause has contributed to the trends they detected1415.
In a 2013 study, Shawn Olson and I16 explored the role of climate contrarianism, emitted from actors of the ideological right who have drawn culturally from anti-regulatory, anti-environmental and neoliberal environmental perspectives traced back to the US-based Wise Use movements — coalitions of groups promoting the expansion of private property rights and reduction of government intervention. We found that through media representations, these views were catalysed by the fundamental notion that it was relatively easy to confuse rather than clarify dimensions of this complex climate challenge in the public arena. In other words, it was easier to muddy the public waters of deliberation than to clean them up. Moreover, Robert Brulle has pointed to oft-critical political economic dimensions of this amplification process, namely funding for contrarian discourses from carbon-based industry groups17.
Media coverage of the slowdown certainly taps into cultural resonances, while dredging up an often voluble minority view that climate change is not happening altogether. In the near-term, the timing of such attention in the public arena has contributed in part to a missed opportunity to communicate findings from the Fifth Assessment Report of the Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released in September 2013. Indeed, that may have been precisely one point of the attention paid to this meme by voices from the ideological right.
Over the longer term, in combination, climate change issues, events and developments that climb into the public arena through media representations do not do so merely for characteristics internal to the stories themselves. They become articles, segments and clips also by way of journalistic norms, such as personalization, along with concatenated contextual political, economic, social, environmental and cultural factors. [Mother Jones] Journalist Chris Mooney has pointed out: “Journalists take heed: Your coverage has consequences. All those media outlets who trumpeted the global warming 'pause' may now be partly responsible for a documented decrease in Americans' scientific understanding.”15
On this critical issue of climate change — that cuts to the heart of our carbon-based industry and society interactions in the twenty-first century — the whole world will continue to watch the unfolding climate science, policy and media interactions in the public arena. Going forward, tracking the roots and shoots of representations of a global warming slowdown can help to trace the importance of language in shaping the possibilities for public engagement.

3 comments:

  1. Gosh, who would have believed, verily Nature Climate itself stooping to do what the Climategate mob tried to do.

    So when will the next science journal be shut down for failing to support the consensus?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is amazing to me how the most respected science journal has fallen for the anti-science AGW scam

      Delete
    2. Their editors are non-scientists, eco-nuts, and failed scientists more interested in politics.

      Delete

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