UK newspaper (mis)representations of the potential for a collapse of the Thermohaline Circulation

Jennings, Neil and Hulme, Mike (2010) UK newspaper (mis)representations of the potential for a collapse of the Thermohaline Circulation. Area, 42 (4). pp. 444-456. ISSN 1475-4762

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Abstract

This article investigates the representation in UK national newspaper articles between August 1987 and April 2006 of the possibility of abrupt climate change. It focuses primarily on representations of the possibility of a collapse in the Thermohaline Circulation (THC) and uses coverage of the possibility of a collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) as a counterpoint. The article draws on a content analysis of newspaper articles and interviews with journalists, scientists and politicians. The THC issue was found to have received over three times more coverage than the WAIS issue despite both 'collapses' being deemed as equally unlikely by the IPCC. It is shown that the representation of the THC issue as the 'Gulf Stream' has been central to its media popularisation, but also that this representation has caused adverse reactions from some within the scientific community. Over 80 per cent of newspaper articles covering the THC issue put forward no indication of the probability of collapse or contained contradictory probabilities. It is suggested that the relatively large amount of coverage given to the THC issue, the absence of accompanying probabilistic statements, and the use of sensationalist headlines have had a significant influence on public perceptions of the climate future for the UK.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Rosie Cullington
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2011 15:54
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2020 17:13
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/20321
DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4762.2009.00936.x

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