What's the Connection Between the Media & Climate Skeptics?

This week, at COP17, an Oxford University-based Reuters Institute research team shed light on the connection between media and climate skeptics.

The U.S. has, by significant margin, the greatest and most vocal share of skeptics. The U.K. has the second greatest share. Coincidentally, the media in these two countries give climate deniers more bandwidth.

poles apart coverOver 80 percent of international climate skeptical coverage was found in the U.S. or U.K. press. The research found that conservative newspapers in the U.S. and U.K. carried significantly more skeptical voices than left-leaning papers. Most skeptical views were available in the opinion and editorial pages of mainstream newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal.

The study, Poles Apart, by James Painter, further explains why the U.S. and U.K. press has such abundant coverage of skeptics compared to other countries.

The skeptic reporting has cultivated and catered to a large audience in the U.S.. Yet year-to-year, that audience appears to be shrinking. A November 2011 Pew survey found that climate believers are gaining ground in the U.S.: 63 percent of Americans now say "there is solid evidence in global warming."

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For scientists and American believers, the slight uptick (from 57 percent) over the past two years is modestly encouraging.

"I guess I should be cheered by this opinion shift, but somehow I am not," shared Liam Moriarty, a U.S.-based believer.

In the context of COP17 negotiations, delegations and attendees are often baffled that there is continued debate in the U.S. about climate change science. This report helps believers decode the skeptics. It also sheds light on the U.S. negotiating position.

Photo montage includes a cloud photo and a television photo via Shutterstock.