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Climate Endgame – How to Research and Communicate Extreme Climate Risks?

Firefighters in front of a wall of flames, wading through shallow water

by Felix Schaumann

“Are we screwed?”, “How bad is it gonna get?” – these are the questions that I most frequently get when I mention that I am in climate science. Newspaper coverage of a recent perspective article in PNAS seemed to suggest that we are actually headed towards a global catastrophe with potential extinction and that we know dangerously little about it: “Climate endgame: risk of human extinction ‘dangerously underexplored’ – Scientists say there are ample reasons to suspect global heating could lead to catastrophe”, or “We Are Not Freaking Out Enough About Climate Change”.

This media coverage has led other researchers to criticize the underlying article for being too gloomy – they argue it scares the public and overemphasizes the likelihood of catastrophic climate change. Continue reading Climate Endgame – How to Research and Communicate Extreme Climate Risks?

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Telling the Truth, Uniting Behind the Science – Climate Coalitions and Science’s Place in Society

extinction rebellion activists protest with a pink boat in the city

by Simone Rödder

In recent years, a new wave of climate activist groups, such as Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future and the Sunrise Movement have reshaped public debates on climate action. In so doing they refer to scientific evidence. But, how exactly do they understand science’s relationship to society? Drawing on documentary evidence, our recent study argues that the use of evidence by these groups, especially the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reflects an effective form of science communication, albeit one that leaves hierarchies of scientific knowledge largely intact.

“Unite behind the Science!” and “Tell the Truth!” are among the familiar slogans of the school-striking young activists inspired by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion. The new climate movements’ call to listen to science has become almost emblematic; it was printed, for example, on the sailboat Greta Thunberg used to cross the Atlantic in September 2019. But what do they actually mean by “science”? Continue reading Telling the Truth, Uniting Behind the Science – Climate Coalitions and Science’s Place in Society

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Global Climate Change in Local Journalism: How to Make Local Journalists Rethink Their Framing

houses seen from below

Not only in photography do choice of angle and frame decide what we see. Photo by Ludovic Charlet, Pixabay.

By Susan Jörges

Framing of climate change in local newspapers considerably influences how citizens perceive climate change in their living environment. A master thesis entitled “Global climate change in local journalism” takes a closer look at the main source of local media frames: cognitive frames from local journalists. This article summarizes the main results and presents six implications for improving local climate change reporting. Continue reading Global Climate Change in Local Journalism: How to Make Local Journalists Rethink Their Framing

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Nachhaltigkeit geht alle an – drei Beiträge zum Thema Nachhaltigkeitskommunikation

Cover ComSoc 2_22

(English summary below)

Die aktuelle Ausgabe der Zeitschrift Communicatio Socialis versammelt diverse interessante Beiträge zum Thema Nachhaltigkeitskommunikation. Das Plädoyer darin: Nachhaltigkeit geht alle an, und auch Journalismus und Wissenschaft können sich nicht länger auf einen distanzierten Beobachterstatus zurückziehen.

Die Zeitschrift ist leider nicht frei lesbar. Für alle, die keinen Zugang zum Journal haben, sind hier drei Beiträge verfügbar – siehe hinterlegte Links:

„Plädoyer für eine bescheidene Weltverbesserung. Transformativer Journalismus und transformative Kommunikationswissenschaft“ (Michael Brüggemann)

„Nachhaltigkeit kultivieren. Öffentliche Kommunikation über Umwelt, Klima, nachhaltige Entwicklung und Transformation“ (Franzisca Weder)

„Transformation und Wiederverortung. Herausforderungen angesichts Klimanotstand und Artensterben“ (Torsten Schäfer)

Zur gesamten Ausgabe (Paywall): Communicatio Socialis (ComSoc), Jahrgang 55 (2022), Heft 2

English summary

Continue reading Nachhaltigkeit geht alle an – drei Beiträge zum Thema Nachhaltigkeitskommunikation

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RCP-8.5: Business-As-Usual or Unrealistic Worst-Case? The contested interpretation of climate change scenarios

By Felix Schaumann

RCP-8.5 is not only the arguably most popular climate change scenario, it is also often framed in a very specific manner: as the business-as-usual trajectory that humanity is on if no climate change policies are adopted.

For an academic discipline that actively tries to be policy-relevant, climate science in the context of the IPCC is often weirdly inaccessible. An example of this is the rather cryptic naming of climate scenarios that form the backbone of IPCC reports and many climate modelling studies: names range from SSP1-1.9 to SSP5-8.5. A specific element of these mysterious scenarios – the so-called RCP-8.5 – has been the focus of a rather fierce academic debate.

Yet, more than being a somewhat nerdy scientific debate, the controversy around RCP-8.5 actually points to some fundamental disagreements about the communication of climate futures. Continue reading RCP-8.5: Business-As-Usual or Unrealistic Worst-Case? The contested interpretation of climate change scenarios

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Why Don’t We Act Now? The discrepancy between climate change awareness and action

By Marina Falke

The 6th IPCC Report of Working Group 3 was published just about two months ago, on April 4, and stated once more and in further detail the urgency to mitigate climate change. As known, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) consists of politicians and scientist of the United Nation, grouped in three working groups focusing on different aspects of climate change. The third working group specializes in climate change mitigation and presents sources of global emissions as well as developments in emission reduction and mitigation efforts. Despite the great importance of the report’s findings, neither sufficient media coverage nor meaningful political reaction have yet materialized. Why is the gap between climate change’s urgency and action on it still so wide? Continue reading Why Don’t We Act Now? The discrepancy between climate change awareness and action

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Climate Attention on Twitter: 2021 breaks attention records

by Amelia Peach

Still very much in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2021 saw climate change continue its fight for public attention. Although still not quite able to match 2019’s daily average tweet count of 1429, with an average of only 1237 daily tweets, 2021 did see the top 3 highest peak days yet.

Continue reading Climate Attention on Twitter: 2021 breaks attention records

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The Power of Data Transparency

by Louisa Pröschel 

Next year, in 2022, the IPCC will finalize its sixth assessment report. A report that is unarguably one of the most cited, far-reaching sources for trying to understand and argue policies that can mitigate the climate crisis and its impacts. It is exactly this type of imperative research that showcases the importance of transparent and reliable data. And just as much as countries need to be held accountable for providing accurate, up-to-date reporting on their CO2 emissions for policymaking, we need researchers and journalists worldwide to have access to this information as well.

Illustration by Stuart Rankin, Hotter or Colder Than Normal (Edited NASA/NOAA global map showing the most redent temperature deltas), 2015. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/24354425@N03/19647953921

Continue reading The Power of Data Transparency

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Comparing Coverage of Climate Change Across the Global North and South

by Valerie Hase & Daniela Mahl

India and Thailand are among the countries affected most by climate change. Still, we know little about how news media in these nations cover climate change. In a recent study, we wanted to change that and asked: How and how much do countries from the Global North and South cover climate change?

Continue reading Comparing Coverage of Climate Change Across the Global North and South

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COP26: Media and Twitter Attention at All-Time High

A quick update with visuals drawn from our Online Media Monitor on Climate Change (OMM)

News media attention to climate change (2017-2021), Online Media Monitor

Good news: COP26 has refocused news media attention and Twitter attention to climate change to an all-time high since 2017. This is also true when dating back to 2004, according to Max Boykoff’s observatory on media coverage, which shows–based on slightly different method and sample–similar results. Continue reading COP26: Media and Twitter Attention at All-Time High