From Greenhouse Effect to Climategate: A Systematic Study of Climate Change as a Complex Social Issue

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Sociology & Social Policy

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Publications

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Collins, L. (2016) Uncertainty discourses in the context of climate change: A corpus-assisted analysis of UK national newspaper articles in Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research

 
Description Research examining public perceptions of climate change and media coverage of climate change is booming. However, there has been little research looking at the dynamics of these processes over time. This project had four workpackages linked to the following aims: to understand what events trigger and perpetuate waves of public attention with regard to climate change; to examine which types of linguistic frames and whose types of frames dominate public understanding and motivate public action and social movements; assess the role the web plays in this communication dynamics; determine what this can tell us about the complex interactions between science and society in the context of climate change and how this information can be used to improve policy and communication practice. To achieve our aims we used a novel combination of theories and methods to monitor and analyse how climate change as a complex social and political concept was discussed over time in the UK and the Netherlands, both in traditional media and online. We employed social representations theory and identity process theory in conjunction with metaphor, discourse and visual analysis tools, as well as elite interviews (the latter were carried out by the Dutch team). These qualitative approaches were combined with quantitative ones derived from corpus linguistics, multi-dimensional scaling, semantic network analysis and twitter analysis to study climate change debates in that played out between 1988 and 2014 with relation to climate change as an emerging global threat, such two Rio summits, climategate and its repercussions in online debates carried out in reader comments and underneath YouTube videos, the fifth IPCC report and xx. We monitored and tracked the change of global climate change policies over time, as well as social science understandings of climate change risks and uncertaitnies; we monitored and assessed emerging controversies around fracking (our articles are highly cited), CCS and geonengineering (our article on that topic is highly cited). We also contributed to public opinion surveys of attitudes to fracking in the UK carried out at the University of Nottingham and we submitted a report on 'uncertainty language' to the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate change's inquiry into the IPCC Fifth Assessment review. Overall, we found that traditional media still performs an important agenda-setting function by creating ripples of interest and meaning which infiltrate social thinking concerning climate change, and, conversely, the audience of media, from readers of online newspapers to YouTube watchers or Twitter users, can themselves become active in the creation or perpetuation of such ripples of meaning. Collectively, our studies highlight the importance of exploring the role of language and identity in the social representation of climate change with particular attention to the rhetorical strategies employed in the give and take between media and active audiences. We have shown that it is not sufficient for the media to simply involve climate change in order for the public to show interest in it. Rather, the level of public interest will likely depend on the one hand upon the ways in which climate change (or technologies seen as mitigating it) is framed, the sorts of metaphors that are used, and the sorts of phenomena and images to which it is 'anchored' and on the other. We also traced differences in approaches to and understandings of climate change and associated issues in the UK and the Netherlands, in particular with relation two the Rio Summits of 1992 and 2012, the way that US responses to Hurricane Sandy were framed with references to Dutch engineering expertise. We also looked at climate science climate scepticism, the issue of authority and the IPCC from a perspective of organisational studies. We published a special issue on climate change communication and the internet for Environmental Communication which was turned into a book by Routledge. Nerlich continued working on climate scepticism within a large Leverhulme Trust funded project and, even now, interacts regularly with mainstream climate scientists and sceptics on twitter and on blogs. She has continued to publish blog posts on the blog Making Science Public: https://wakelet.com/wake/2c3f6821-1550-4fc2-9f9b-b637de5d9c6f
Exploitation Route Through out study of language, framing, metaphors, social representations and identity, we have changed the way that climate change communication research is being done here in the UK and beyond. Many of our articles have become go-to references for such research.
Sectors Energy,Environment

URL https://sites.google.com/site/climatechangeoraproject/home/project-publications
 
Description We have continued to publish articles and edited collections on issues related to climate change in traditional and online media. Our research has entered handbooks on metaphor studies and climate change studies. Brigitte Nerlich continues to blog on climate change issues and still stimulates wider discussions about climate change and language use in the social media. See here: https://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/category/climate-change/ and https://wakelet.com/wake/2c3f6821-1550-4fc2-9f9b-b637de5d9c6f Quote from reader on twitter: "Brigitte, lang[uage] is so important. I feel we need a revu/a reboot. Some terms r meaningless, like gravity sceptic :-)". Discussion about 'alarmism' and 'realism' in climate change discourse (November 2017). An article based on our research has been included in the 2018 communications handbook for climate scientists commissioned by the IPCC https://climateoutreach.org/resources/ipcc-communications-handbook/ : Shaw, C and Nerlich, B (2015). Metaphor as a mechanism of global climate governance: A study of international policies 1992-2012. Ecological Economics Vol. 109, pp. 31-40.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Environment,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Climate Outreach and Information Network 
Organisation Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The website 'Talking Climate' was set up by the charity COIN by Dr Adam Corner with some (private) funding from Brigitte Nerlich
Collaborator Contribution We contributed to a website called 'Talking climate', mainly in terms of helping with the bibliography articles relating to climate change communication. This website has now been incorporated into 'Climate Outreach'
Impact We contributed to the popularity of the website.
Start Year 2012
 
Description 'Silent spring' - making science public 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/09/27/silent-spring-making-science-public/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/09/27/silent-spring-making-science-public/
 
Description A mixed methods approach to analysing online reader comments on newspaper articles concerning climate change 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Workshop presentation at "Conceptual and methodological approaches for researching climate change at different societal scales: BSA Climate Change Study Group Event", University of Southampton, March 2012.

Sharing our findings and especially methods with a wider sociologically interested audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Abseiling down the climate cliff metaphor 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/12/17/abseiling-down-the-climate-cliff-metaphor-2/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/12/17/abseiling-down-the-climate-cliff-metaph...
 
Description Blog posts about climate change 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Blog posts:
http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2018/08/11/groundhog-day-in-the-hothouse/
http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2018/07/03/air-con-apocalypse/
http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2018/10/27/climate-change-metaphors-crimes-detectives-and-fingerprints/
http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2018/04/13/antimicrobial-resistance-climate-change-communication-governance-responsibility/
Guest post by Mike Schäfer, ETH, Zurich
http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2018/04/08/climate-change-politics-role-china-window-opportunity-gain-soft-power/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Blog posts about climate change debates 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the Making Science Public blog which is linked to a Leverhulme programme (where a subproject dealt with climate scepticisim, a topic that grew out of previous ESRC climate change projects), I continue to write blog posts about climate change which are well received on twitter and sometimes stimulate discussion.http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/category/climate-change/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/category/climate-change/
 
Description Carbon and energy/publics and politics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/05/20/carbon-and-energy/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/05/20/carbon-and-energy/
 
Description Climate communication conundrums 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/03/14/climate-communication-conundrums/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/03/14/climate-communication-conundrums/
 
Description Climategate, media volume and public concerns - what's the relation? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/03/02/climategate-media-volume-and-public-concerns/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/03/02/climategate-media-volume-and-public-con...
 
Description Consensus on climate change: Tracing the contours of a debate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Weblog: http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/08/23/consensus-on-climate-change-tracing-the-contours-of-a-debate/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/08/23/consensus-on-climate-change-tracing-the...
 
Description Corpus-assisted analysis of internet-based discourses : from patterns to rhetoric 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Invited talk at the Department of Communication, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel.

Share our methods with wider international audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Eavesdropping on the climate change debate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact ESRC press release

http://www.esrc.ac.uk/impacts-and-findings/features-casestudies/features/20105/Eavesdropping_on_the_climate_change_debate.aspx http://www.esrc.ac.uk/impacts-and-findings/features-casestudies/features/20105/Eavesdropping_on_the_climate_change_debate.aspx

http://www.esrc.ac.uk/impacts-and-findings/features-casestudies/features/20105/Eavesdropping_on_the_climate_change_debate.aspx
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.esrc.ac.uk/impacts-and-findings/features-casestudies/features/20105/Eavesdropping_on_the_...
 
Description Extreme weather events, climate change and the media 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/01/30/extreme-weather-events/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/01/30/extreme-weather-events/
 
Description Extreme weather images in the media cause fear and disengagement with climate change 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact New research has shown that images of extreme weather in the media create negative emotional meanings and might lead to disengagement with the issue of climate change. The images symbolised fear, helplessness and vulnerability and, in some cases, guilt and compassion. Appealing to fear of disaster can lead to denial and paralysis rather than positive behaviour change.



New research has shown that images of extreme weather in the media create negative emotional meanings and might lead to disengagement with the issue of climate change. The images symbolised fear, helplessness and vulnerability and, in some cases, guilt and compassion. Appealing to fear of disaster can lead to denial and paralysis rather than positive behaviour change.

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://news.cision.com/taylor---francis/r/extreme-weather-images-in-the-media-cause-fear-and-disenga...
 
Description Extreme weather talk: Making climate public? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Weblog post http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/06/19/extreme-weather-talk-making-climate-public/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/06/19/extreme-weather-talk-making-climate-pub...
 
Description From Katrina to Sandy: Searching online for links to climate change 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/11/16/from-katrina-to-sandy-searching-online-for-links-to-climate-change/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/11/16/from-katrina-to-sandy-searching-online-...
 
Description Geoengineering and (un)making the world we want to live in. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Blog entry at Geolog: The Official Blog of the Geosciences Union

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://geolog.egu.eu/2013/07/31/geoengineering-and-unmaking-the-world-we-want-to-live-in/
 
Description Global warming is dead, long live global heating? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This blog post emerged from a weekend conversation between Mike Hulme, Brigitte Nerlich and Warren Pearce.

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Making weather personal 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was idly reading The Observer on Sunday (2 March, 2014), when I happened to glance at an article about the Scottish island of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides. I read: "The past few months, too, have shown how vulnerable an island community is when the weather becomes truculent". Truculent I thought; that's a new one.



This made me think about other recent personifications of weather, as being 'on steroids' for example, and I asked myself: is (extreme) weather becoming personified in new ways? And does some weather even begin to personify climate change? (as Len Rosen asked in 2012: Is Hurricane Sandy Climate Change Personified?)



Or would that be going too far? Would people say that making such a claim would be "utterly the stupidest, most self-centered, appallingest excuse for an anthropomorphic personification in this or any other plane!" (Death berating Dream in The Sandman)?

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Mitigation, adaptation, geoengineering: Patterns of discourse, patterns of mystery 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/06/05/mitigation-adaptation-geoengineering-patterns-of-discourse-patterns-of-mystery/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/06/05/mitigation-adaptation-geoengineering-pa...
 
Description Moderation impossible? Climate change, alarmism and rhetorical entrenchment 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/02/27/moderation-impossible-climate-change-alarmism-and-rhetorical-entrenchment/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/02/27/moderation-impossible-climate-change-al...
 
Description Public understanding of climate change: The deficit fallacy 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/04/07/public-understanding-of-climate-change/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/04/07/public-understanding-of-climate-change/
 
Description Rio plus 20 minus hope 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/06/26/rio-plus-20-minus-hope/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/06/26/rio-plus-20-minus-hope/
 
Description Unseasonable weather; unseasonable climate? Facts, fictions and fantasies 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/07/15/unseasonable-weather-unseasonable-climate/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/07/15/unseasonable-weather-unseasonable-clima...
 
Description Waiting for gate-gate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/02/22/waiting-for-gate-gate/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/02/22/waiting-for-gate-gate/
 
Description Weather or Climate? Enjoy or worry? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Weblog http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/02/27/weather-or-climate/

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2012/02/27/weather-or-climate/