The Challenges for Climate Communication Post-COP21

Last fall I was in Helsinki to give two presentations at the 2nd ICOS Scientific Conference. ICOS is the Integrated Carbon Observation System, a European-wide research infrastructure that is developing a harmonized system for collecting and disseminating carbon cycle and greenhouse gas data. In their words, ICOS is an “organisation of eleven member countries and over 100 greenhouse gases measuring stations aimed at quantifying and understanding the greenhouse gas balance of the Europe and neighbouring regions.”

 Needless to say, the conference delegates were almost all bio-physical scientists who, I assumed, knew little or nothing about communication theory generally or climate communication research specifically. Keep that in mind as you read on because that informed my approach to the two talks.

In other words, if you are somewhat familiar with the research on climate communication, this should be pretty familiar ground. But if you are new to the topic, I hope this will be a good primer for you.

The first presentation, a keynote, was about the challenges of communicating about climate change in the Post-COP21 context. The second was about some of the main things we know about good practices in climate communication. Both of these talks were meant to synthesize of some of the current thinking among scholars and practitioners on these topics.

What follows is the approximate text of the first talk, edited somewhat for this context. I’ll do a post on the second talk shortly. Continue reading

Visual Environmental Communication book

Visual Environmental CommunicationRoutledge has a new book out now on Visual Environmental Communication, edited by Anders Hansen and David Machin. The book contains a number of papers that were part of a special issue of Environmental Communication. My paper with Bruno Takahashi, “The Nature of Time: How the Covers of the World’s Most Widely-Read Weekly News Magazine Visualize Environmental Affairs” is included in the book.

It’s a great collection of papers, certainly suitable for a course. And in case you are wondering, I get no money from the book sales. I signed the paper over to Routledge and that’s that. Continue reading

Headlining Energy Issues: A Content Analysis of Ethanol Headlines in the U.S. Elite Press

Bruno Takahashi, Carol Terracina-Hartman, Katie Amann, and Mark S. Meisner “Headlining Energy Issues: A Content Analysis of Ethanol Headlines in the U.S. Elite Press,” presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) 2014 Conference, Montréal, Québec, August 8, 2014. Continue reading

Environmental Communication: Research into Practice

In about a month I will begin teaching a new course on environmental communication through the International Environmental Communication Association (IECA). Here is the course description:

Environmental Communication: Research Into Practice

Online course: June 9 to July 17, 2014

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Agenda Setting and Issue Definition at the Micro Level: Giving Climate Change a Voice in the Peruvian Congress

Congress of PeruBruno Takahashi & Mark S. Meisner “Agenda Setting and Issue Definition at the Micro Level: Giving Climate Change a Voice in the Peruvian Congress,” Latin American Policy, 4(2). 340-357, 2013.

Abtract

Agenda setting and policy formulation processes, including those involved in global issues such as climate change, have been a focus of continuous research during recent years. However, most studies have taken a broad longitudinal perspective, with limited emphasis on the individual level decision-making that can better explain the broader dynamics thoroughly tested in the past. This study presents an analysis at the micro level that uncovers specific instances of individual decision-making within an information-processing framework. Additionally, little is known about how climate change is defined in developing nations that are highly vulnerable to its effects. Therefore, this micro level analysis focuses on national legislators and advisers in the Peruvian Congress.  This paper presents a detailed narrative of the processes of formulation of several climate change bills and the development of a special committee on climate change and biodiversity in the 2006-2011 legislative period in the Peruvian Congress. The study discusses the role of policy entrepreneurs, the influence of limited or inaccurate information, and the competition with other policy issues, through an analysis of in-depth interviews with these legislative elites. The results show the significant influence of media reports and Internet use in a low information environment.

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Re-examining the Media-Policy Link: Climate Change and Government Elites in Peru

CulturePoliticsandClimateChangeBruno Takahashi & Mark S. Meisner “Re-examining the Media-Policy Link: Climate Change and Government Elites in Peru,” Chapter 6 in Culture, Politics & Climate Change: How Information Shapes our Common Future, Edited by Deserai A. Crow and Maxwell T. Boykoff. London: Routledge, 2014.

Abstract

The ways in which the mass media report on policy and scientific issues such as climate change have an influence on the attention to–and understanding of–such issues by decision makers. However, the study of such influence has been quite limited. This chapter is motivated by this gap in the literature, as well as by limited research about media and climate change in developing countries. We want to understand the ways in which media coverage of climate change interacts with individual traits (e.g. values, knowledge, attitudes) of national legislators in Peru, and how such interaction influences the design of policies. Additionally, it focuses on the circumstances that allow such effects to occur. The results reveal that a low policy information environment, coupled with issue attributes, enables both the media and alternative sources of information such as the Internet to play an important role in shaping how legislators perceive the issue and act upon it. In a highly vulnerable country such as Peru, the need to increase information of local issues related to climate change is necessary.

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The Nature of Time: How the Covers of the World’s Most Widely-Read Weekly News Magazine Visualize Environmental Affairs

Time-1970-02-02Mark S. Meisner & Bruno Takahashi “The Nature of Time: How the Covers of the World’s Most Widely-Read Weekly News Magazine Visualize Environmental Affairs,” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, Vol.7 No.2, pp. 255-276, 2013.

Abstract

Scholars of environmental communication acknowledge the importance of visual representations in shaping perceptions and actions in relation to environmental affairs. Unlike with other media, including newspapers, television and film, research on the visualization of nature and environmental issues in magazines is rare. This study focuses on the covers of Time magazine, one of the world’s most influential news weeklies. A data set that includes all relevant covers from 1923 to 2011 is examined using a combination of quantitative and qualitative content analysis to analyze the visual representation of nature and environmental issues. The results show that the presence of environmental issues and nature on the covers has increased over the decades. Furthermore Time takes an advocacy position on some environmental issues, but it is a shallow one that is weakly argued through less-than-engaging imagery and fails to offer much in the way of solutions or agency to the reader.

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