Week 9- Krosnick & McCright/Dunlap

October 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

In Krosnick’s op-ed, he discusses a study he did that confronted the theory that the public is torn on whether or not climate change is occurring and if action should be taken. His theory is that there is in fact a larger consensus than we think, and that the majority of the public does believe climate change is occurring and is caused by human action. On the other hand, McCright and Dunlap approach the concept of the countermovement by studying documents by conservative “think tanks” and assessing the origins and characteristics of those who are opposed to climate change on a more global level. Although Krosnick’s piece is focused on a select few American citizens and McCrighton and Dunlap are referring to a whole movement, it can be seen that although there may be a growing consensus in America, there will always be opposition to environmental action if it is threatening to one’s own values.

Krosnick’s study was a phone interview done with 1,000 random American adults asking them questions about their opinions on climate change. His claims his study is different from those in the past because he focuses on people’s own opinions on the issue rather than asking them about what they have observed through media coverage on climate change. Since there are politics involved when it comes to media coverage of climate change, there will be skepticism on the issue. Krosnick is suggesting that this skepticism is not as prevalent as we may think it is in real life, just like it is not present amongst the experts on the subject.

The study done by McCright and Dunlap suggests otherwise. They focus on the growing opposition as well as the “claim and frame” processes acting as tools in coverage on the orientation of climate change as a social movement and social problem. They found that there are three common themes of the conservative countermovement: Criticism of the scientific evidence and beliefs in global warming, emphasis on the potential benefits of global warming, and claims that taking internationally binding action would have many negative consequences. They say that if global warming is seen as threatening the core characteristics of conservatism, and the “Manifest Destiny” which is the belief in certain potentials of the future such as faith in science and technology, economic growth, and faith in material abundance and prosperity, then they will not support action to slow down the effects of climate change.

Therefore, Krosnick states that there is a growing consensus amongst the public while McCright and Dunlap state that there is an entire movement against taking action against global warming. McCright and Dunlap’s study is focused more on political figures and leaders in this movement while Krosnick is focused on the general public, but they both still raise an important question as to the extent of skepticism that exists amongst the public. Do you think that there is more of a consensus than the media will allow us to know? Or is there inevitably going to be a countermovement to issues as prevalent as global warming? What would you suggest we can do to find out what the public really thinks?


Week 9 Post – Krosnick & Grundmann

October 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The New York Times article, “Climate Majority” by Jon Krosnick talked of a study that represented how American’s truly feel about global warming and whether it is happening or not. After getting an idea about how the public feels they realized that the view that Americans’ don’t have a consensus of global warming occurring and human activity being the main cause is simply not true. The public seems to have a general consensus and the Americans views are being portrayed inaccurately. This made me think of the other reading about scientific consensus and the idea that they actually do have a consensus that global warming is happening-but people still think there is doubt within the scientific community.

Climate Change and Knowledge Politics was a study performed by Reiner Grundmann. He is curious if the IPCC consensus has promoted different policy changes by the American and German governments. And looks at three different “actors involved” with this issue, IPCC experts, advocates, and skeptics to see if their knowledge of global warming would make them put forward different policies, which wasn’t surprising when he proved this hypothesis. Both countries have grown attention to the issue, but it is hard to compare exactly between the two governments because skeptics are much more apparent in the US Press than the German Press.

We have read a lot of articles and scientific readings about whether or not American’s believe that global warming is happening and what the main reason is. This issue has been quite split down the middle with people believing and people that don’t. So reading Krosnick’s piece confused me, and it got me to start thinking about how is this the first piece that we read that states that the public has a consensus on the global warming issue. Krosnick’s had a small pool of people, but why is this different than the rest of the public…it could be that most of the people studied were Democrats or highly educated? Also, no one can say that the issue of global warming isn’t becoming more and more popular, because it is. But there is still a loss of communication between scientists, people, media, and the politicians – some people have more knowledge of the issue of global warming and the possible effects and some don’t. Those who don’t, are going to have a little bit of doubt no matter what, and look to others to help them make a decision on climate change. Do they look to scientists, politicians, peers, media reporters?


We originally thought that this confusion with scientists having a consensus or not was lost through the media, is the miscommunication through media the same reason why we are “misinformed” about the consensus of Americans’? After all our other readings do you think American’s have an actual consensus?

Megan Geske- Krosnick and Van den Hoye

October 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Assuming that the scientific consensus about human-caused global warming is in fact correct, then it is necessary for everyone to attempt to mediate this threat. Policymakers must pass laws and guidelines limiting the fossil fuel emissions and other necessary changes. However, oil companies and politicians with specific agendas make this task more difficult, and so far have been effective in stopping any such bill from passing. The economic and political consequences have overshadowed the environmental impact, and despite citizens desire to combat global warming, America has yet to effectively combat climate change.
In a survey by Political Psychology Research Group, Jon Krosnick found that, despite what some politicians (e.g Republican Lisa Murkowski) would like us to think, a majority of Americans believe that the world is warming due to human activities. According to Krosnick, some conservative politicians justify shooting down plans to limit emissions of greenhouse gases because it is not what the American public wants, and claim that the American public doesnot trust environmental scientisits after alleged flaws in studies were found. Krosnick effectively dismissed both of these cliames. So why do politicians and the media claim otherwise? Krosnick blames faulty survey questions to be the ultimate culprit.
In The Oil Industry and Climate Change: Strategies and Ethical Dilemmas, Van den Hove et al discuss three major oil companies’ strategies for dealing with the issue of global warming. Despite BP’s embarrassing and devastating oil spill last year, BPAmoco has a proactive response to global warming, claiming that they will create energy efficient technologies (and other such strategies to be more “green”). At the other end of the spectrum, ExxonMobil has led the fight against emission constraints, participating and funding lobby groups to stop Senate from agreeing to certain guidelines. ExxonMobil’s strategy also relies on pointing out the alleged economic consequences of constraining emissions; ExxonMobil claims that this will negatively impact the American public’s way of life.
These two articles both point out an inconsistency between opinions and actions. Americans appear to be concerned about global warming, yet no effective action has been taken by policy makers to address this threat. Politicians and businesses have instead decided to look at short-term consequences such as the economy, ignoring the larger picture.

Question: Who do you think has the most influence in determining climate policy? Politicians, citizens or businesses? Should there be a policy made to limit emissions, or do you think that we should use the “wait-and-see” strategy?

Stef Manisero – week 9

October 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Climate change is, evidently, an issue that remains under extreme debate. There are multiple opinions on its’ causes, effects and even its’ existence. One thing that is definite, however, is that scientific knowledge has affected public policy matters in its’ call for political action. Consequently, individuals are being forced to develop a better understanding between science and public policy, for beliefs on climate change have certainly become relevant in government practices and political perspectives.

Featured in a New York Times op-ed piece, author Jon Krosnick wrote an article entitled, “The Climate Majority.” He starts off by stating that a Senate vote would be taking place in the future on a resolution that would limit emissions of greenhouse gases. He argues that despite common beliefs that fewer and fewer Americans believe climate change is a legitimate concern, a recent survey disproves such theories – in actuality, “huge majorities of Americans still believe the earth has been gradually warming as the result of human activity and want the government to institute regulations to stop it.” Selected randomly, 1000 respondents were asked if they believed the earth’s temperature had been heating up over that past 100 years, and 74% answered affirmatively. Krosnick discusses other studies that giving opposite results, and argues that the majority of the time the questions are worded awkwardly or in a way that may not give accurate results, explaining the flawed beliefs. Other surveys that have asked simple and direct questions have led to similar results as this one, that people do believe in global warming. He talks about issue publics, which are usually issues so controversial that the public is divided somewhat equally, however, in this issue public, 88% of the public believe global warming is happening. At the end, Krosnick ties the issue back to one of the upcoming vote, claiming, “a vote to eliminate greenhouse gas regulation is likely to be perceived by the nation as a vote for industry, and against the will of the people.” In this case, scientific knowledge is greatly affecting matters of public policy, and it is clear that beliefs on climate change have become related to government practices.

Grundmann also focuses on the relation between scientific knowledge and public policy, arguing that despite a consensus on climate change being reached by the IPCC, different governments still hold different opinions on the matter. The article, “Climate Change and Knowledge Politics,” compares the reactions of the United States and Germany to the IPCC consensus. As Grundmann describes, the IPCC is seen by many as a combination of science and public policy, and predicts that many countries would have high policy responses to the IPCC’s reached consensus. However, as seen by the US government, this is not the case. Grundmann argues that this is because the press in both countries relies on different sources of scientific expertise when reporting on global warming, and the US government does not use the IPCC report to legitimize its climate change policy, while the German government does. The main difference in the two countries’ reactions is that in choosing to ignore the report, the US belittles the problem, whereas Germany acknowledges its importance. The US rejected a global climate treaty, yet Germany chose to accept it and attempted to persuade the rest of the world to adopt it as well. Grudmann argues throughout the difference in policy actions between governments, and in exploiting the US’s neglect of the problem side-by-side with Germany’s active engagement in the matter, we see two extremely different government reactions to the same policy. Once again, scientific knowledge is seen reflecting on public policy, and it furthers the idea that scientific knowledge is increasingly important in government practices and political ideologies.

Both these articles demonstrate the high relevance of scientific knowledge in political policies in today’s society. The increase of the matter in day-to-day policies calls for an increase of scientific knowledge. As everyday matters are becoming more and more based on science, in particular the matter of climate change, it will require the general public to become more informed on scientific matters. In Krosnick’s article, we see survey results that demonstrate the high percentage of Americans who do believe that global warming is occurring.  In Grudmann’s article we see the differences between two governments approaching the issue of climate change. While the US is choosing to ignore it, Germany is choosing to take action on the matter. Both authors demonstrate the high correlation between scientific knowledge and government policy issues, and this connection is only likely to continue increasing.

Questions: Do you agree that the correlation between science and public policy will continue increasing or not? Will the correlation stay the same or get lower? What other issues, asides from climate change, are currently of public concern and related to science?


Week 9 Blog Post- Casey Krutz

October 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

In “Challenging Global Warming as a Social Problem: An Analysis of the Conservative Movement’s Counter-Claims,” McCright argues why the public might not be as concerned with global climate change as they should be. His basis of argument is the conservative movement. The conservative movement makes three claims. One, conservatives argue that the evidence that global warming is based off of is weak, if not completely wrong. Two, conservatives argue that if global warming did occur, there would be substantial benefits. Third, conservatives claim that if people took action on the assumed problem of global warming, more harm would be done than good. The conservative movement aims to point out that while the science of global warming appears to be getting more uncertain, the harmful effects of global warming policy are becoming more certain. The conservative movement attempts to discredit scientific evidence for global warming and undermine its credibility to the public, making it seem non-problematic, while pointing out all of the negative economic impacts and impacts on national security if action is taken on this issue.

In “The Climate Majority,” a New York Times article, Krosnick argues that the American public is actually in support of global warming, contradicting many poll findings. While Krosnick presents that many national surveys have shown that few Americans believe climate change is real, a pool done from Stanford National Science Foundation showed that 75% of randomly chosen adult participants believe that global climate change was occurring and that the reason for this was human behavior. A majority of the survey participants also wanted Federal Government to limit air pollution emitted by businesses and do not feel that policies to reduce global warming would hurt the nation’s economy. Also, in this article Krosnick presents that many pools that show the American public as skeptical about climate change present questions in a way that does not give them a chance to support global warming. In fact, Krosnick finds that most of the public wants the Federal Government to take steps towards global warming action, but feels that the government is opposed and doesn’t care about the public opinion.

While “Challenging Global Warming as a Social Problem” presents reasons for why global climate change policies have not been implemented and puts the blame on the conservative movement influencing the public, “The Climate Majority” asserts that public actually believes that global change is occurring and is more concerned about it then we are aware of.  It is clear that there has been a large political debate behind the basis of whether global warming is occurring and whether or not action should be taken or not. McCright details the conservative reasoning of why global warming is not supported and this shows why policies may not have been implemented to curtail the human effects on global warming. Krosnick puts the blame on federal government who is perhaps not listening to the public opinion enough and skewed pools that are distorting the public opinion.

“The Climate Majority” seems to be fairly vague about what the article is presenting. Krosnick does give percentages from pools that show that the public supports implementing global warming policies and indicating their support and indicates bad question wording that may have swayed public survey responses. However, since this is a newspaper article from New York Times, which is often said to hold a liberal bias, it may have intended to present that global warming has support since liberals are often in favor of action against global climate change. I do not think that “Challenging Global Warming as a Social Problem” is not completely convincing in its argument either. While I do agree that conservatives have an impact on other conservatives supporting or rejecting, global climate change, McCright, seems to emphasize that the conservative movement has had such a large impact that policies to get the public to act against climate change have little chance of being implemented.

This brings me to my questions for this week. Do you think that overall the public is concerned about global climate change or do they see it as non-problematic? Also, many reasons have been given that influence the public on global climate change issue, including temperature and political influence. What is the main reason that people support or oppose climate change?


October 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


In “The Climate Majority”, Jon A. Krosnick discusses the surprisingly false claim that the majority of Americans do not believe global warming is occurring. Although the perception made visible by media is that the public is split 50/50 on the issue, in actuality, a large majority DO believe global warming is occurring, DO believe that it is largely a result of human actions, and DO encourage that policies on limiting toxic emissions be implemented. Krosnick says, “global warming has attracted what political scientists call an ‘issue public’: millions of Americans who are passionate about this subject and put pressure on government to follow their wishes” and that, normally, “issue publics divide equally on opposing sides” (4). After conducting a study, what Krosnick concluded was that this divide did not actually exist. Rather, an overwhelming majority believe that global warming is happening and that we must do something about it; the issue is, in actuality, a singular issue. Why the misperception? Krosnick attributes this to the fact that past survey questions are unclear and violate crucial ‘survey question’ formulas. They do not stick to one topic at a time and they ask questions that are likely to confuse the participant. If surveys were to ask more direct, clear, and concise questions, then it would be easily recognized that a large majority of the public believe global warming is occurring and that it is time to face problems and come up with solutions.


In “The Construction of Global Warming.” David Demeritt delves into the relationship between politics and science.  He exposes the underestimated, but crucial, role that politics plays in hot issues such as global warming. Dermitt feels that it is not ‘the facts’ that shape science; rather, it is the social and political construction of those facts. The way Dermitt sees the debate, it is an ‘issue public’ as Krosnick calls it. Krosnick demonstrates how this is not actually the case and Dermitt begins to explain why the misunderstanding exists. He claims that, in the end, politics are built into science. He says “the social organization of climate change and its articulation with the political process raise important questions about trust, uncertainty, and expertise.” The main point Dermitt is making is that, in the end, what is believed and ultimately done to decrease global warming is a result of the social and political context in which science is framed.In order to get the public to understand and, therefore, make informed decisions regarding global warming, the media does not need to increase factual and technical information.  Instead, they need to increase the amount of trust the public has in media sources and in the “social process through which those facts are scientifically determined.”  If the public can learn to trust the process then hopefully they will be able to accept the truth and to see global warming the way Krosnick presents it.


How can journalists and scientists effectively engage the public so that they can understand the process? If what Krosnick claims is true, then what information needs to be provided to best get the public to understand the truth in global warming?


Week 9 McCright and Krosnick

October 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Challenging Global Warming as a Social Problem, McCright and Dunlap argue that the conservative movement is at the core of recent challenges to global environmental problems and at the heart of the “green backlash” pointed out by Brulle (2000) and Switzer (1997). Sociologists have defined global warming as a social problem, leading to some social scientists ‘deconstructing’ claims made by environmentalists and scientists, while others evaluate the role of the media in affecting the salience of global warming as a social problem. McCright and Dunlap claim these sociologists neglect the organized opposition and the intense efforts of industry and the conservative movement to construct the ‘non-problematicity’ of global warming. The authors research therefore focuses on the mobilization of the conservative movement into an effective countermovement directly opposing environmental proponents’ framing of global warming as a problem. They conduct a content analysis of counterclaims used by the conservative movement to measure and establish global warming’s non-problematicity. Their overall argument is that the controversy over global warming stems from the concerted effort of a powerful countermovement (conservatives) more than any other factor. They set out to provide evidence the controversy is a direct function of the excercises of power by an influential countermovement. They found the three counterclaims used to challenge global warming’s legitimacy as a serious problem were that the evidentiary basis of global warming is weak, the net effect of global warming would be beneficial should it occur, and the policies proposed to ameliorate the alleged global warming problem would do more harm than good. In essence, they find conservatives to believe that “while the science of global warming is becoming more uncertain, the harmful effects of climate change policy are becoming more certain.” In short, the counterclaims serve to block proposed action on global warming that challenge their interests centered around the economic risks of taking action. Also, they see these counterclaims as what helped halt the U.S.’s endorsement of the Kyoto protocol in 1997. They feel that our society needs to consider the social forces opposing the “environmental lobby”, and claim we need to shift our attention toward the efforts of conservatives and their industry allies to mobilize an effective countermovement dedicated to establishing the ‘non-problematicity of global warming.

In The Climate Majority, op-ed contributor, Krosnick, writes about the senate vote proposed by a republican in Alaska which would ‘scuttle’ the EVPA’s plans to limit emissions of greenhouse gases by American businesses. At first, it seems like this is what Americans want based on public opinion polls. However, Krosnick points out that a Political Psychology Research Group survey showed just the opposite – a majority want government to institute regulations. 86% of respondents are in favor of the government limiting the amount of air pollution businesses emit. A majority opposed taxes on electricity and gasoline to reduce consumption, but 84% favored government offering tax breaks to encourage utilities to make more electricity from water, wind, and solar power. Krosnick then goes on to criticize the question wording of other polls which indicate a conflicting opinion among Americans by tapping the populations personal beliefs. He believes in asking only 1 question at a time and choosing language that makes it easy for respondents to understand and answer each question. The survey they held discredited the claims of growing public skepticism. Other places in the world, such as in Britain, had inaccurate portrayals of respondent beliefs as well. Global warming has shown to form a great deal of issue public around the world. The growing issue public surrounding proponents of global warming policy need to be taken into account for votes on bills such as these, as “a vote to eliminate greenhouse gas regulation is likely to be perceived as a vote for industry, and against the will of the people.”

While both authors address the level of consensus and uncertainty among the U.S. population, Krosnick’s analysis seems to be based more from updated opinion polls, while McCright and Dunlap make claims based off a content analysis of past political speak. Krosnick claims the divide among the population in terms of believing global warming is happening is often exaggerated by the media from, and McCright and Dunlap claim the conservative movement is driving the opposition to climate change. Regardless of the effects the media has on the level of people’s support for policy action on global warming, the fact is that policy action has lagged despite a seemingly large majority who believe global warming is true and a strong scientific consensus advising the population one way. Here, both authors point out the partisan politics side of this paradox.

If Krosnick is claiming the population is mostly in agreement on the global warming issue and policy action, and McCright is claiming a large movement is forcing a partisan divide on the issue and policy action, can both of them be correct in their own ways? Why or why not?


Luke Yiannatji

Jade Hanson – week 9

October 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

As debated in our class, it is evident that many reasons contribute to the public perception of global warming and the actions(or lack there of)being taken to slow the process. It is evident that journalistic problems/flaws are present in the global warming issue and I believe they contribute to big corporations’ perceptions on the action required by them in the fight against global warming.

In The Climate Majority, Jon Krosnick addresses the issue of poor polling methods/questions used by journalists and cites this as a major reason for public perception misrepresentation. The Times performed a study however that when offering balanced options, the responses came back in a large majority believing global warming is happening and that it is caused by humans. The article also analyzes the economic perspectives involved, showing that most people support the reduction of big business gas emissions. However, because of the constant confusion portrayed about the issue in the media, big businesses are not feeling the pressure to make changes to their levels of carbon emissions.

In The Oil Industry and Climate Change: Strategies and Ethical Dilemmas, the authors discuss three of the largest oil companies in the world perspectives on global warming. Oil companies contribute in large part to the level of carbon emissions on our planet. This article discusses the strategy of each company in regards to global warming, some embracing the findings of climate scientists and some ignoring the issue. However, the authors argue that even the companies who claim to want to make changes to help the economy will most likely not do so because they will come up with alternative strategies over time and because it is not being demanded by the general public that they change.

In order for the public to demand change, journalists need to do a better job of highlighting the public’s support for changes to reduce carbon emissions. They also need to present solid factual information that shows the need for big companies to take action. Environmental groups alone can not make change happen and one country’s government alone can not have a large impact. It is the responsibility of the world’s citizens to demand change from big companies. By journalists giving citizens the proper tools to lead change, it is possible large reductions of carbon emissions can occur.


The questions I pose are:


Can journalists write a story about the problem posed by big companies and their carbon emissions in an unbiased manner?


What medium do you think would be most successful to engage the public in the fight against big business carbon emissions?

Week 9 – Emily Thibodeau

October 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

In “The Construction of Global Warming and the Politics of Science”, Demeritt argues for skepticism towards the idea that politics and science are separate entities. Overall, Demeritt believes that social and political construction have shaped science, and in particular the global warming debate. He points out global warming models as causes for controversy on many levels. Some problems with global warming models, which are relied on heavily in global warming and climate change debate, include flux adjustment by scientists, in an effort to maintain equilibrium, the ignoring of extreme cases, and the lack of formalization of model making. Scientists seem to play a huge role in shaping these possibly inaccurate models that influence the discourse surrounding climate change. Demeritt argues that public doubts about climate change should be addressed by discussing the social processes through which scientific facts are determined; not simply giving the public more facts.

Krosnick in “The Climate Majority” discusses a recent study that contradicts most opinion studies about climate change. Krosnick found that a majority of Americans do believe humans impact climate change and support some form of governmental action to lower human impact on global warming. Other studies which present contradicting results often had seemingly flawed question. For example, questions asking individuals about their scientific knowledge of climate change and their perception of climate change news were used to gage their personal views on climate change, which may give misleading results.

Overall, both articles acknowledge the lack of public knowledge about climate change. Demeritt notes that the lack of knowledge often leads to confusion, and individuals do not understand what influences the scientific facts they hear and may or may not understand. Krosnick notes that lack of public knowledge has been constructed as a lack of public concern for or belief in climate change, thanks to flawed survey questioning. But Demeritt is quick to blame the media and scientists for withholding information from the public about their social motivations, whereas Krosnick points out that long-standing, potentially incorrect surveys may be giving the general public a flawed picture of climate change debate. To what extent are the media responsible for these climate change knowledge shortcomings? Should the media devote more time to educating the public about social and political influences on scientists, as Demeritt suggests? Or should greater attention be paid to the survey questions that are used to gague public opinion, as Krosnick suggests? Would both be helpful?

Jorden Gemuend – Week 9 – Grundmann and van den Hove et al.

October 26, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Posted in Weekly Responses | 1 Comment

In the face of scientific findings of anthropomorphic climate change, different institutions are bound to be effected. The difference is how these institutions are going to react, or essentially adapt to a world where climate change continues to be a pressing issue. While the consensus about scientific findings seems to grow more concrete, Reiner Grundmann and van den Hove et al. show how the reactions of national governments and international oil corporations drastically differ within themselves. Nonetheless, it is clear that the reactions of governments are closely related to the reactions of oil corporations.


Grundmann asks the question of why the IPCC consensus has led to different policy responses by governments. In his study, “Climate Change and Knowledge Politics,” Grundmann jumps into the different ways in which the German government and the U.S. government have reacted to the findings reported by the IPCC. He describes how many people see the IPCC as a hybrid of science and policy, which would be expected to have higher policy responses, and yet notes how this is not necessarily the case, as with the U.S. government. Knowledge politics, a key element in understanding the decisions made by politicians, is the use of knowledge provided by scientists/experts/professionals to justify policy action. Grundmann makes five observations of the reactions made by the U.S. and German government. First, climate change policy for both governments is driven by political agendas and institutionalized according to national groups of power. Second, both countries retrieved expertise from different sources besides the IPCC reports that were more familiar to that government. The two governments react differently, however, in that the German government uses the IPCC report to legitimate its climate change policy while the U.S. does not. Here, a clear distinction in choices is made where Germany chooses to acknowledge climate change, and the U.S. attempts to wait and see, or downplay the problem. Fourth, The U.S. rejects a global climate treaty, while Germany and the EU not only promotes it but tries to convince the rest of the world to agree. Again, Germany proactively reacts to climate change while the U.S. attempts to ignore it. Finally, Grundmann argues that the influence of the IPCC on national governments is limited by the political dominance that is present in the processes that collect expert knowledge. While the German government proactively engages the dilemma of climate change, the U.S. government does not.


In many ways, these governmental reactions are similar to those of international oil corporations. Van den Hove et al. brings light to these reactions in their study, “The Oil Indutry and Climate Change: Strategies and Ethical Dilemmas.” The authors are quick to point out that while all oil corporations aim to achieve profits, they differ in their attitudes of the constraints which society tries to impose upon them. This, of course, is related because oil companies are directly related to greenhouse gas emissions. Van den Hove et al. distinguish the three different reactions that ExxonMobile, BP Amoco, and TotalFinaElf have employed when confronted with building evidence of climate change. ExxonMobile attempted to fight against emission constraints, primarily through promoting the negative economic consequences such constraints would have. TotalFinaElf took a neutral stance and decided to wait and see how policy relating to climate change would develop before choosing to act. Essentially, TotalFinaElf is avoiding the problem. BP Mobile decided to acknowledge the dilemma and make changes by being proactive in its emission cuts. The authors point out that all three of these reactions has led to profits, or at least not a reduction. A suggestion to promote the proactive option by demonstrating that it is still profitable can help swing the industry towards acknowledging climate change and participating in more ethical practices.


Whether it is national governments or international oil corporations, the choices of how to deal with climate change seem to be the same. The similarities appear most vividly when separating the reactions into a proactive and acknowledging form and an avoidance and weakening the issue form. The German government acknowledges climate change and proactively creates policy in order to mitigate its effects. It seeks to use scientific knowledge and expertise as a backing for its policies, and hope to come out with more popular support as a result. This is the same tactic used by BP Amoco, who has taken a proactive approach to cutting carbon emissions. The U.S. government is more reminiscent of the reactions seen by ExxonMobile and TotalFinaElf, who either avoided the problem or attempted to weaken it through the fear of consequences. These reactions and their similarities are telling as to how policy is formed in relation to climate change in both government and corporations. Interestingly, van den Hove et al. point out that all three strategies used by the oil corporations have been successful. This could serve as a possible predictor for the outcomes of the U.S. and German government reactions. The difference here is that we pay government with our votes, and oil corporations with our money.


My Question: While these authors point towards a proactive reaction being best, does the wait and see reaction of the U.S. government have some merit?

Megan Geske: Week 8

October 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, Weekly Responses | 4 Comments

Both Global Warming: the psychology of long term risk and Apocalypse Soon? look at why people are skeptical about climate change, despite scientific evidence indicating that it is occurring. These two articles went beyond just blaming the mass media, focusing instead on the psychological reasons that people are hesitant to jump on the climate change bandwagon.
In Global Warming: the psychology of long term risk, Oppenheimer and Todorov examine the difference between the American public’s beliefs, and the policies they support. Oppenheimer and Todorov found that while much of the American public claimed to be concerned about global warming, many individuals were not willing to support policies that would affect their way of life (like gasoline taxes). This conflict is known as the “American paradox”. One of the main problems that policy makers have in America is that climate change has become not an environmental issue, but a political one, dividing Republicans and Democrats. Oppenheimer and Todorov note that there is a “finite pool of worry” for political problems, meaning that the public in general only focus on one large issue at a time. To account for this, policy makers must find a way to focus attention on global warming, because without attention and support of the public, there will be no solutions to this problem. In addition, this article offered ideas for a successful campaign on climate change. The authors suggest that experts should speak about the consequences of climate change in terms of local consequences, so that people will feel that the issue is personally relevant.
In Apocalypse Soon?: Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming by Contradicting Just-World Beliefs, Feinberg and Willer focus on one psychological principle in particular: the just-world phenomenon. This theory refers to people believing that the world is inherently just, with people getting what they deserve. Most campaigns concerning climate change have focused on the terrible consequences of inaction, such as future generations suffering. This notion of innocent people suffering does not mesh well with the just-world belief, and Feinberg and Willer argue that this results in people denying the existence of global warming. The results of the Feinberg and Willer’s two experiments showed that a positive message that did not contradict the just-world theory led to a decrease in skeptisim. Feinberg and Willer also found that presenting a potential solution to climate change reduces the threat to the just-world theory, thus resulting in lower skepticism.
Both articles introduce interesting psychological factors that explain the public’s reluctance to take action to combat global warming. The two articles also suggest possible ways to effectively communicate the reality of climate change. Oppenheimer and Todorov suggest personalizing the consequences of climate change, whereas Feinberg and Willer suggest presenting potential solutions to climate change, and not using a “doomsday” frame. Do you think either or both of these solutions would change public opinion? DO you think journalists would be willing to implement these different frames in their articles?

Week 8 Post – Dunlap/McCright & Feinberg & Willer

October 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized, Weekly Responses | 3 Comments

A Widening Gap by Dunlap & McCright talks about the difference between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of global warming. It addresses five very important questions concerning global warming. 1. Is it occurring 2. Is media coverage exaggerated 3. Is there a scientific consensus 4. Is it human-cause or natural change 5. Is it a threat. The difference between Democrats and Republicans are pretty distinguished. More Democrats believe that global warming is occurring, it isn’t exaggerated in the news, there is a scientific consensus, it is human-caused and it should be considered a threat. While Republicans also believe that global warming is occurring, there is a scientific consensus, and it is partly due to human activities, it isn’t as strong as the Democratic belief. Republicans also believe that the issue is extremely exaggerated in the news and should not be considered a threat.

Apocalypse Soon? Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming by Contradicting Just-World Beliefs  by Feinberg and Willer was a study done to see if having dire messages aimed at stopping global warming actually hurts the amount of people believing in global warming. The results demonstrated that messages warning the severity of global warming actually increases skepticism about the issue because they are contradicting individuals’ beliefs that the world is just.

I was extremely interested in the second reading, I never would have I thought that trying to “promote” the idea of global warming and informing the public of its’ threats would in turn make more people skeptical of the issue. I thought the first article showed that people are concerned with this issue, Democrats more than Republicans, but still the general public seems concerned. This makes me wonder about whether Democrats or Republicans are more likely to feel like our “just” world is being threaten by global warming.

Question: do you think that the issue of global warming will be an important factor in the Presidential Election in 2012? And do you think people feel strongly against this issue, that they would not vote for a candidate because of his/her support for changes to reduce our carbon footprints?


October 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Through newspapers, television news programs, internet blogs, and other news outlets, there is a plethora of information that is sent out to the public.  And while some of that information involves self-interest stories or stories catering to public likes and dislikes, others have a direct effect and our immediate future. Taking into account the readings we have discussed on global warming thus far, it seems fair to say that there is scientific consensus on the issue.  Despite the consensus, people continue to disagree that global warming is in fact happening.  Though disagreeing with some news stories may not have an effect on the future of society, disagreeing or, rather, not understanding the truth in global warming could have disastrous effects on our future. In, both,  “Apocalypse Soon?” and “Global Warming: The psychology of Long Term Risk” the authors discuss reasons the public holds so little belief in global warming.  In “Apocalypse Soon?” Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer attribute disbelief in global warming to the just-world theory and the fact that it is presented as too dire an issue for people to admit that it is happening; In “Global Warming: The Psychology of Long Term Risk,” Oppenheimer and Todorov attribute disbelief in global warming to the lack of cohesive dialogue between the climate and behavioral scientists and to the fact that the issue is not framed in a way that relates to people’s psychological needs.  Whatever the reason may be, global warming is happening, and the bottom line is that people need to understand that simple fact in order to go about fixing the problem.

In “Apocalypse Soon?” Fienberg and Willer discuss the problem of global warming in the context that people do not believe it is happening.  He says that the reasons for this have to do with the way the issue is framed. The “just- world theory” is a theory that exists across the public sphere; it claims that people need to believe “the world is just orderly, and stable.” Additionally, “when individuals’ need to believe in a just world is threatened, they commonly employ defensive responses.” In the case of global warming, those defensive responses are to wholly discount what scientists are saying about the issue.  These people don’t want to believe it so they convince themselves that it is not actually happening.  Like I mentioned above, not believing a news story does not always have detrimental effects and everyone is , of course, entitled to their own opinions.  However, in this specific case, if people do not believe in global warming, then they will be less willing to help the problem and it will only escalate.  Fienberg and Willer feel that messages provided on global warming are too dire for the public to believe in concordance with believing in the just-world theory. They claim, “many dire messages aimed at stopping global warming make salient the impending chaos and unpredictable catastrophe that global warming will bring with it.” Therefore, the two suggest that global warming be conveyed in a less dire way  because, “dire messaging,” in their study, “led to a reduction in participants’ intentions to reduce their carbon-footprint- an effect driven by increased global-warming skepticism.”

Similar to “Apocalypse Soon?”, “Global Warming: The Psychology of the Long Term Risk” discusses reasons why the public often discredits or disbelieves information they receive about the truth in global warming. Oppenheimer and Tororov, like Feinberg and Willer, feel that understanding global warming “depends on the way it is framed by various groups and ultimately viewed by members of the general public.”  They feel that the problem lies in the fact that “each group frames an issue with an eye toward responding to the questions raised by other groups,” but in doing so, he thoughts, feelings, and questions, of the public are left to linger unanswered and unattended to. The disconnect between the ways global warming is framed in relation to the way the public needs them to be framed is what contributes to problems in teh long run.  The general lack of awareness in psychological aspects of the public is contributing to the lack of understanding the issue amonst them and is, therefore, further leading to a lack of willingness to take steps towards putting an end to global warming. Oppenheimer and Todorov discuss an idea called the “American Paradox”, the fact that people’s “concern for environmental issues does nto always correspond to choices they make in teh voting booth.”  That is to say, individuals are concerned about global warming, but do not support policies and policymakers that would directly relate to them.  Somewhat dissimilar  to what Feinberg and Willer claim, Oppenheimer and Todorov dicuss how people are likely to act on an issue when it is something that relate to their personal feelings and how they see the issue effecting their family and community.

But if Feinberg and Willer feel that there is too much dire messaging about global warming provided for the public to believe it and Oppenheimer and Todorov feel that the information provided does not relate enough to public feelings, then what really is the best way to frame the issue? How can journalists and other information outlets play into public feelings without playing too much into disrupting their belief in a just-world?

Stef Manisero – Week 8 – Dunlap & Egan

October 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Egan and Mullin conducted a study to determine how people translate personal experiences into political attitudes. Because local weather is something that all Americans are exposed to nearly at random, Egan chose to show how local weather patterns have a significant effect on people’s beliefs about evidence for global warming. It is discussed that there are, generally, two threats to studying experiences’ effects on attitude formation: 1) people are usually exposed to experiences in non-random ways and 2) most research relies on self-reports of experiences, which is unreliable. However, this study eliminates those two threats. Also discussed is the “Receive-Accept-Sample Model,” which theorizes that messages’ rate of reception rises with political awareness and sophistication, but the politically aware only accept messages that are congruent with their personal ideological predispositions. It is based off the idea that the politically aware receive more elite messages and are more effected by them than their day-to-day experiences. Egan argues that people at high and low extremes of the political awareness spectrum are immune to effects of personal experience because they are only attentive and receptive to messages from their political sphere, and are less open to attitude change. People in the middle of the spectrum, however, are attentive enough to perceive political messages that contextualize their experiences and are open to attitude change, allowing their experiences to influence their beliefs. The study measured three things: news attention, opinionation and partisanship. Egan specifically states that the study did not use education as a proxy because it was something that correlated with cognitive ability to evaluate evidence, rather than heuristics, which is what is needed in weather evaluation. Results of the study confirmed Egan’s hypothesis. Egan discovered that local weather did have a great impact on people’s beliefs on climate change, yet the impact only existed for people in the middles of the political spectrum. The surveys demonstrated that 74% of individuals studied believed the temperature was rising.

Similarly, Dunlap conducted a study in regard to climate change and political affiliation, and found a steady pattern in the correlation between beliefs about global warming and political beliefs. Dunlap shows that 75% of Democrats believe global warming is occurring, however, Republicans are becoming less and less likely to believe so. He also discusses how there is a growing trend in Democrats who belief global warming is induced by human activity, whereas Republicans have a decreasing trend of beliefs on the same matter. Further, only a quarter of Republicans acknowledge global warming as a serious threat, while about half of Democrats consider it to be an issue of growing concern. Similar to Egan’s study, Dunlap discusses how the more knowledge an individual has on the topic of global warming, the less likely they are to be affected by their party’s beliefs and views. Dunlap argues that there is a clear distinction in regard to global warming beliefs between Democrats and Republicans, and this division, he claims, is problematic. It demonstrates that people are being influenced by their party, rather than attaining their own opinions. He refers to this division as a “widening gap” and admits that this gap between Republicans and Democrats makes this issue even more complicated and difficult to go about handling than it already is.

Both authors study a correlation between politics and the issue of climate change and both authors touched upon similar issues, while coming to similar conclusions. Egan, who looked at a more general picture of the issue, determined that party affiliation, does indeed, have an effect on people’s opinions on global warming, especially the more politically right or left they lie on the spectrum. Dunlap, also discovers through his study that there exists an enormous divide between Republicans and Democrats and their views on climate change. Both Egan and Dunlap maintain that this divide is an issue that we need to overcome if we ever want to make progress on the issue. Dunlap’s main focus remains on the idea of this widening gap and the problems it can create, while Egan’s central point is that those who exist among the middle spectrum of political awareness have the greatest chance of their experiences affecting their political opinions. These two studies, in actuality, go hand-in-hand, for both results can be used to determine ways to go about addressing the issue of climate change and politics. Both studies have provided useful results that scientists, journalists and politicians need to take into consideration when dealing with the topic of climate change.

Questions: Knowing what we know from these two studies, whose job would it become to begin closing the gap between Republicans and Democrats? Is it up to the journalists, politicians, scientists, or the people themselves to acknowledge this pattern and somehow change it? Will individuals ever be able to take a step back from their party affiliation to analyze what is happening independently and free of influence, or is this unlikely/impossible?

Week 8 – Luke Yiannatji

October 23, 2011 at 10:42 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

In Oppenheimer’s Global Warming: The psychology of long term risk, the focus is on the way global warming is framed by various groups and how it affects the understanding, discussion, and resolution of policy issues. Oppenheimer believes it is important to pay attention to the psychological aspects regarding the risk of climate change. The objective here is to have a collaborative dialogue between behavioral scientists and climate scientists on the issue of climate change. The important question is about how people think about global warming. The article shows that both the American public and European public are concerned about global warming. However, individual willingness to support policies that would directly affect them directly are low. Therefore, concern does not always correspond to voting behavior. This is referred to by Jameison as the “American paradox”. Furthermore, U.S. policy makers face the problem of environmental policy becoming politically laden. In 1997, republicans were shown to be less concerned than democrats about advocating the Kyoto agreement. Figure 1 shows an interesting finding as republicans were actually even more supportive than democrats of the Kyoto agreement when under the belief that Bush supported it, but dramatically less supportive when under the belief that Bush opposed it. It was also pointed out that there was high public support for government intervention did not directly affect citizens’ individual behavior, but low support for ones that do. This reflects the “concerned but unmoved” attitude in America and Europe. Figure 2 then shows that as average daily minimum temperatures rise in July among 15 European countries, so does the number of respondents reportedly “very concerned” about global warming. In short, psychological perspective in general is crucial to public support for environmental policy. Oppenheimer then refers to the U.S. as a “poisonous partisan divide” when it comes to collective policy action, then adds that leaders can make the divide worse. However, a strong leader will create conditions where attention is paid to a key issue like global warming.

In Apocalypse Soon?, Feinberg and Willer explore the concept of a the ever so common “just-world” belief and its effect on global warming skepticism. They say that potentially dire consequences of global warming threatens widely held beliefs of a world that is just, orderly, and stable. This results in a denial of the existence of global warming and decreased willingness to counteract climate change. 2 experiments were conducted to support this explanation using undergraduate respondents. As environmentalist advocates have been using messages of intense risks which emphasize harm to children and further generations, and that good people will suffer, this can actually be counterproductive in that people tend to get defensive. Study 1 measured participants’ tendencies to hold just-world views, then varied the types of messages and measured their level of skepticism of global warming. As expected, they found that participants with high belief in just-world views had increased skepticism when presented a dire message. Furthermore, no change or a decrease in skepticism was found when presented a positive message. Study 2 manipulated the salience of just-world beliefs before exposing participants to dire global warming messages. They expected that making just-world beliefs salient to participants would increase skepticism of global warming after watching a dire global warming message. They found that those who were primed with just-world statements reported higher skepticism and also were less willing to change their lifestyle than those primed with un-just world statements. They concluded that dire messages can backfire in that increased skepticism of global warming can arise from those holding just-world views.

Both readings from Oppenheimer and from Feinberg and Willer address some psychological aspects that relate to skepticism of global warming. Oppenheimer believes skepticism and willingness to adhere to government policy are more affected by partisan divide and the public’s perception of support by politicians. Feinberg and Willer believe the preexisting beliefs and sentiments about the world being stable and that it should be fair highly affect their level of skepticism. Both believe things can be done to improve the public’s understanding through the ways messages are conveyed to them. According to Oppenheimer, if good leaders can come along and create conditions where global warming facts are paid attention to, people will increase their cooperation with finding a resolution. Feinberg and Willer believe that using less messages conveying the harmful threats and doom, so to speak, will potentially allow those with just-world views to cooperate in finding a resolution

What are some possible ways to get just-world belief holders to buy into the reality of global warming?

What are some possible ways to fix the “poisonous partisan divide” slowing the process of seeking a resolution to global warming?

What can be done about those who are unwilling to change their individual lifestyle for the greater good?

Week 8 – Emily Thibodeau

October 23, 2011 at 9:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Both Egan and Dunlap explore political attitudes that impact individuals beliefs and willingness to act to mitigate climate change, but Egan finds that individuals in the middle of the political spectrum are more likely to be affected by climate change claims relating to local weather, where Dunlap ignores non-partisan individuals. Based on Egan’s research, individuals who do not have strong party affiliation should be targeted by the media and scientists to improve understanding of climate change. Egan found that the local weather had a great impact on individuals beliefs about climate change. But that impact was only found in people in the middle of the political spectrum. Their political awareness was measured by news attention, opinionation and partisanship. Overall, the average of the five surveys studied suggested that 74% of individuals believed the temperature was rising.

Dunlap studied the widening gap between democrats and republicans beliefs in climate change after the 1980’s. 75% of democrats believe global warming is already occurring, while less than half of republicans do, for example. Overall, there is a stabilizing trend found in beliefs and attitudes about climate change, which does not express the partisan differences. However, the views of non-partisan voters are ignored. While individuals may engage in party sorting, and follow their parties general beliefs about climate change — people who do not hold party affiliations are ignored in this study. Ostensibly, studying the beliefs of these individuals would be helpful for getting a clear baseline about American’s beliefs about climate change.

Both Egan and Dunlap study the political awareness of individuals in question. Egan takes a more generalized look at their political awareness, of which partisanship is a factor. Dunlap studies which specific party the individual identifies himself as a member of. However, Egan clearly factors in the individuals who are less partisan than their peers and gains data about their views on global warming. Dunlap ignores independent voters in his piece, which leaves questions as to what percentage of independents believe global warming is already happening, etc. To what extent would knowledge about independent voters change both political parties messages about climate change and the framing the media uses to present global warming? Are their voices important, or not to a great extent because they are fewer in number?

Week 8 Response

October 21, 2011 at 10:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What is the cause of the declining public support for global warming? The two articles I read for this week A Widening Gap and Apocalypse Soon? Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming By Contradicting Just-World Beliefs take opposing view points on the issue.

A Widening Gap written by Dunlap and McCright argue that the power of conservatives argument on global warming has been decreasing public support for climate change over time. They provide evidence that until the 1980’s both parties were in favor of helping the environment. However, Reagan cited global warming as an economic problem which has kept steady in the conservative realm of arguments. 59% of Republicans in 2008 even believed that the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated in the news compared to just 17% of Democrats. Dunlap and McCright argue that the conservatives have caused multiple problems for public support of global warming and if action is not taken, policy making will continue to be affected.

Feinberg and Willer, the authors of Apocalypse Soon? Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming By Contradicting Just-World Beliefs, take a very different stand on what is causing a decline in global warming support. These two argue that the dire appeal used by scientists to counteract skepticism actually scares the public. They say that most people have a “just world” view and when that view is threatened, they often employ defensive responses in order to dismiss the threat. This study analyzed the question of how dire messages affected skepticism in two ways. For both experiments, scientists found that dire messaging did lead to an increase in skepticism.

Both of these pieces offer valid points. However, I am more inclined to accept the beliefs of Dunlap and McCright because of their more thorough research. Feinberg and Willer did provide evidence for their studies but the samples used for each study was not representative of the general public.


Question for the week: Which argument do you think is correct?

Week 8 Blog Post: Casey Krutz

October 20, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

In his piece, “Global Warming: The Psychology of Long Term Risk,” Oppenheimer views public refusal to act on global climate change as a problem, but also offers solutions to the issue. Oppenheimer points out that there is concern for global warming but it is still not getting people to change their actions. There are a few reasons for this. People are not truly informed and they are being swayed by their political party’s beliefs not the facts. People that supported global warming in the study that were Republican were not aware that Bush did not support this. Those that did were aware and that is most likely why they opposed climate change. Also relevant is that people like things to be a personal concern for themselves. With the case of climate change, where there is there is not personal relevance just yet, since there have not been consequences yet, people are not motivated to take action. A good way to describe the European and American public is “concerned but unmoved.” Until things become evident in their own lives they will not change. Oppenheimer suggests that in order to increase behavioral change, there must be more information that relates to the personally relevant concerns of people. Also, it is important to not overwhelm with information and focus on only one big problem at a time.

In the reading, “A Widening Gap: Republican and Democratic Views on Climate Change,” Dunlap takes a negative stance towards Republicans and their views on climate change. Dunlap describes different trends observed in which Republicans and Democrats think differently about global climate change. Republicans have become somewhat less likely over the past decade to believe that global warming is already occurring, while Democrats have become more likely to believe it. There has been a significant increase in Republicans thinking that media coverage of global warming is exaggerated aiding their skepticism that it is occurring. While both parties agree that there being a scientific consensus of climate change, there was a much bigger difference in the amount of Democrats that believe than Republicans. There has been a Republican decrease in the belief that global warming is human induced, while there has been a Democrat increase in belief. Finally, nearly half of Democrats view global warming as a serious threat, while only one-quarter of Republicans feel the same. The main point is that it cannot be overlooked that Republicans and Democrats view global climate change differently. The refusal for Republicans to accept different aspects, while Democrats have caught on and realized it is a problem, is highly problematic. In order for it to become a solvable problem, not only Democrats can be engaged. Republicans must accept it and become actively involved as well.  There is much “party sorting” that happens, which shows how groups of people in a population are cued by their party positions to support a view. The more understanding Republicans or Democrats have about the issue of global warming, the less effect their party has. Republican skeptics continue to be influenced by right-wing party leaders and commentators and with a Democrat in office supporting global climate change are become more skeptical. This gap between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of climate change has major implications for policymaking on the issue.

While Oppenheimer’s piece points out that people are aware of climate change, it also points out that they are not concerned enough to do something about the issue. While it does offer political differences as one main cause of people not taking action, Oppenheimer does not see this as the only reason. People are also not influenced to take action on climate change, because things do not seem personally relevant to them. Dunlap focuses on the political divide being the main problem on the climate change issue. While Oppenheimer offers the idea that there are other factors that may affect the public’s interest as a whole, Dunlap makes it seem as if Democrats are fully engaged with the global warming issue, while Republicans are skeptical of it. Oppenheimer offers ways in which news can be stronger to get people more interested in global climate change, while, Dunlap’s main focus is the gap that is furthering between Democrats and Republicans. While he points out that there is a problem, perhaps widening with a Democrat in office, he does not offer a solution.

My question: Do you think that the main reason the public is not taking action of global warming is a result of Republican skepticism? Or do you think the public overall needs to be more active? What can be done to make Republicans realize that global climate change is a major problem?

Jorden Gemuend – Week 8 – Kellstedt et al. and Feinberg & Willer

October 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Posted in Weekly Responses | 2 Comments

As scientific authors report that the scientific consensus on anthropomorphic global warming is increasing, they search to understand why the public understanding does not match this. Kellstedt, Zahran, and Vedlitz attempt to grasp this disconnection in their study, “Personal Efficacy, the Information Environment, and Attitudes Toward GlobalWarming and Climate Change in the United States.” According to their study, there is an assumption that the more the public knows about global warming, the more concerned they will be. While a logical inference, these authors argue that the opposite effect is true. A test was created to measure feelings of responsibility, concern, and informedness about global warming. As expected, those who feel responsible for global warming are more concerned about its risks. Opposite to their hypothesis, however, the more information a person has about global warming, the less responsible he or she feels for it and the less concern he or she feels for it. While surprising, these results are actually in agreement with previous research. The authors, looking for explanations, note that their data was built solely from self-reported information, and it has been shown that objective measures of informedness are not correlated with self-reports. The authors conclude by offering the possibility that people who are more informed have higher confidence in scientists’ ability to reverse the effects global warming.


Again, seeking deeper explanations as to why public opinion is disconnected from scientific opinion, Feinberg and Willer look into beliefs in a just world skepticism. In their article, “Apocalypse Soon? : Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming by Contradicting Just-World Beliefs,” the authors argue that dire messages about global warming actually lead to increased global warming skepticism because they conflict with peoples’ just-world beliefs. In order to support this argument, two studies were conducted. The first study looked at the relationship between belief in a just world, and levels of skepticism when exposed to dire messages. The results showed that the greater participants’ belief in a just world, the more skeptical they become about global warming when exposed to the dire message. Conversely, positive messages saw an increase in reported belief of global warming over time. The second study tested the effects of priming participants with dire messages on levels of skepticism and willingness to change lifestyle to reduce carbon footprint. As predicted, dire messages lead to increase skepticism, and those primed with just-world statements reported less willingness to change their lifestyle to reduce their carbon footprint than those primed with unjust-world statements. The authors suggest that dire statements be coupled with a solution in order to not threaten just-world beliefs.


Both of these studies are interesting in that they pick up on the not-so-obvious clues as to what influences public opinion on global warming. Whereas Feinberg and Willer’s article makes logical sense, Kellstedt et al.’s article provides surprising results. It seems odd that the more informed someone is about global warming, the less responsible and concerned they feel for it. Perhaps this is because people who are more informed perceive themselves to be more careful about their contributions to global warming. They may also feel less threatened by something they perceive themselves to be relatively more informed about than others. This is contradictory, however, to the scientists who are both informed and concerned. For this study, the limitations of self-reported data need to be closely looked at. The Feinberg and Willer article goes even further with the idea of just-world beliefs. In a bold and intuitive move, they support that beliefs in a just world actually cause skepticism to increase and willingness to change lifestyle decrease when presented with dire statements about the effect of global warming. This is not only extremely informative, but it tells a lot about the alternative influences besides the media that affect public opinion. A further study could compare the beliefs of a just-world within the United States against other countries around the world. The results may show that while just-world beliefs are existent, skepticism and willingness are not consistent.


My Question: Can the understanding of what influences public opinion be used to manipulate the public?


October 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Much of what is deemed important in the news and much of what we, as consumers, are provided information on has to to do with the concept of relevance. It seems that newsworthy topics exist in a cycle: the media and the journalists involved choose to center arguments and information around what they feel will be of interest and of importance to us.  Similarly, what interests us and what is important to us is framed by information we read about and learn about in the media.  To pose this in another way, journalists choose what to focus on based on importance to media consumers, but those media consumers choose what to focus on based on importance provided by journalists. In “Communicating Climate Change: Why Frames Matter for Public Engagement,” Nisbet discusses the importance of “reframing” climate change in order to best inform the public and in order to ensure that vital policy action takes place. Fortner et al,. in “Public Understanding of Climate Change: Certainty  and Willingness to Act,” look at two studies, discusses two studies which propose how the public understands controversial issues such as climate change and why they understand them in those ways.  Both Fortner and Nisbet, in seeking to understand how climate change is communicated to the public, seem to agree that much of what is provided, how it is framed, and how the public sees those frames has to do with the idea of relevance.

Nisbet, in his report on communicating climate change, looks at past and present dealings with the issue and how the public has come to understand it as a result.  He sees it as vital to our environment for the public to understand climate change, but argues that the public sphere just does not know enough or understand enough to make informed decisions.  And why do those decisions made by the public matter so much?  Nisbet delves into patterns of policy action demonstrated in the past.  He says that politicians and public officials are not authorized to make important decisions, such as those on climate change, on their own. He argues, “Presidential popularity is not enough to pass policy initiatives” and that “efforts of recent administrators to pass… reforms have depended on gathering widespread public support” (14). Sure a popular president or public official can have significant  effects on how the public feels about something, but that just ins’t enough when it comes to facilitating government action.  Nisbet says, “these decisions are too significant to leave to just elected officials and experts” (14). Passing important laws and implementing key policies requires public engagement and, right now, the engagement necessary is not there. Nisbet claims that journalists have a large say, arguably “the largest,” say  in what is communicated to the public. He says that a lot of that “what” is based on relevance. People read about, want to learn about, and are attracted to issues that have some effect on their lives.  However, right now, the public does not understand how important climate change is and how relevant the issue is to ALL of their lives. Nisbet proposes “reframing the relevance of climate change in ways that connect to a broader coalition of Americans.” Politicians need to implement policies that will curb global warming, but they cannot do so until a larger amount of the general public understands the issue as relevant to themselves.

Fortner et al. looks, specifically, at how the public understands issues and why they understand them that way. The article talks about two studies.  The first examines “media portrayals of global warming and teh certainty with which information was reported” on certain occasions.  The second “assesses public knowledge about key topics in global climate change, people’s certainty about their information, trust in the media, and willingness to take action on global warming.” In combination, the authors are studying how the media poses the issue of climate change and, as a result, how the public understands the issue and take actions pertaining to it.  In the report, researchers expected that “some negative relationship would exist between media’s hedging of the reports related to the climate change issues (Study 1) and people’s certainty of their knowledge of the issue (Study 2)” (139). Although this hypothesis could not be fully supported in the results of the two studies, there is suggestion for conducting a study with a larger sample size for a longer amount of time.  Fortner et al. still feel strongly about their hypothesis and see the studies’ constraints as the reasons why that hypothesis was not supported.  Similar to Nisbet, the hypotheses in these studies point to the active role that journalists play in how the public understands an issue such as climate change.  Furthermore, they point to the fact that, how the public understands these issues, will subsequently relate to how they act on them. All of these points, like Nisbet’s points, come back to the idea of relevance.  The researcher’s discuss that reporters “look for relationships of issues to people’s lives, because such relevance attracts an audience” (137).  But while the journalists understand that key newsworthy component, they do not understand how important it is to make climate change of public relevance.  Like I said before, people often decide what is relevant to them based on what the media deems important and the media deems important what they see as being relevant to those people.  Climate change, in all media related respects, must become a more relevant issue to both the media and to the public.

So with this in mind, the question becomes, how can scientists attract journalists to the issue on climate change and how can they communicate its importance to them? From that, how can the journalists see the relevance of the issue and get the public to see its relevance as well? How can the issue of climate change be effectively “reframed” as Nisbet says it needs to be?

Week 7: Zhao vs. Nisbet – Stef Manisero

October 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

In the article “Media Use and Global Warming Perceptions: A snapshot of the Reinforcing Spirals,” Zhao discusses the background information, procedures and research conducted in a study examining the relationship between an individuals’ media use and their global warming perceptions. Zhou argues that audience activity and media effects, two important aspects to consider when studying the media, can apply to the reinforcing spirals model, which argues that these two aspects are truly meshed into one another and are two mutually reinforcing processes. Much literature contains evidence on the media’s potential to influence the audience, along with much evidence in regard to the audience’s potential freedoms in choosing to seek out or steer clear of such influence. Further, Zhao contends that these two perspectives are, in fact, in harmony with one another, and should be fused to demonstrate the dynamics of mediated communication.

Information seeking is brought up in this article as an important area of consideration in studying media effects. The article states that it is necessary to treat information seeking as an outcome of audience perceptions, for much focus lies in the extent to which the issue in question is perceived to be problematic, threatening or worthy of concern. Additionally, it was found that behavioral theories all have a profound influence on information-seeking research. As global warming is an issue that many come to learn about through the media, the experimenters decided that using the most salient images would be the most impactful, which is how it was decided to study global warming with a focus on Polar Regions. Researchers predicted that the concern over the effects of global warming on Polar Regions is influenced by media use. Two mechanisms of the media that proved important to the cause of this influence included the media’s general function as an information purveyor, along with the media’s impact on perceived scientific agreement about the reality and causes of global warming. The study showed that many exogenous variables had significant effects on media use. Interestingly, it was discovered that greater newspaper reading and greater Web use were associated with greater perceived knowledge, whereas television viewing proved insignificant. It was found that there was no direct correlation between media use and scientific agreement.

Nisbet’s article, “Communicating Climate Change: Why Frames Matter for Public Engagement” deals with the topic of climate change portrayed via the media with a bit of a more political perspective. While the Obama administration entered office wanting to address climate change, Nisbet claims that the public needs to be more informed and active in regards to the issue. It starts off with addressing the issue of agenda setting, as Nisbet states that concern over other issues eclipse the concern about climate change in the general public. In a poll, asking what should be the top priority of 2009, only 1% of the population said climate change, while 40% said the economy. Nisbet also defines communications as “transmission” – “scientific facts are assumed to speak for themselves with their relevance and policy significant interpreted by all audiences in similar ways.” Much research concludes that the intensity in which an idea is spread through the media is directly related to the public participation on policy issues. Therefore, because climate change lacks immediate and visible impacts on our environment, many dismiss the urgency of the issue. Moreover, the complexity of the issue discourages people from getting too involved. Finally, our media system, with so many choices about what news to obtain and where to obtain it, allows people uninterested in climate change to easily dodge the topic. Nisbet’s argument throughout is that all these reasons are largely due in part to framing. The public uses frames as “interpretive shortcuts”, integrated with “media presentations with preexisting interpretations” in order to make sense of complex policy debates, and this, obviously, allows for the misguidance of many citizens. Non-believers of climate change use framing to convince the public that it is a non-existent matter, while advocates do just the opposite. Nisbet asserts that this misguidance would not occur on such a high scale if framing was monitored and used strategically.

Both articles insist that the media plays a significant role in the publics’ perceptions of global warming. I’d have to agree with both authors in this claim. Zhao’s article shows a study, step-by-step, and how many factors – such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, etc – did, in fact, have effects on media use, although interestingly, no direct effects of perceptions of scientific agreement. This article also touches upon the fact that scientists, when believed to have reached a consensus, intensify the problem, and similarly, when scientists are believed to hold inconsistent views, the problem is likely to decline. Due to scientist’s varying views on climate change, the media negatively influences concern about global warming. Nisbet’s exploration of framing in the media, and statements about how frames do sway audiences one way or the other, backs up Zhao’s assertions that the public is influenced by the media on the topic of global warming. What both authors also address is that strategies, due to the huge influence the media holds in the public eye, in some way or another, need to be changed in order for this media influence to be neutralized and accurate. Framing leads to bias, and, consequently, inaccuracy. In addition, fluctuating accounts of what is truly occurring in respect to climate change, lead to a lack of concern from the public.

Questions: Is it possible, in any way, to not frame a piece of published information? If so, how? And if this ever, one day in the future, did begin to occur, how would un-framed published information change the perceptions of the public, and the realm of science in general?

Week 7 Nisbet and Corbett

October 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Nisbet’s article “Communicating Climate Change: Why Frames Matter for Public Opinion,” he discusses how public opinion is shaped by the way in which we receive information. He states that frames are story lines that set a specific train of thought in motion, and that they are relied upon by audiences to make sense of an issue. They are used as shortcuts to interpret and link two concepts that make an issue in the news relevant to many groups of people. By doing this, media creates a story that is considered personal to its audience, and encourages a sense of urgency to act responsibly in order to resolve an issue.

In terms of climate change, Nisbet believes the main problem with the way the issue is portrayed in the media is that there is a lack of public engagement and that framing has actually perpetuated the concept uncertainty. It has become a political issue that has been used to improve the economy by “creating green jobs” and creates a divide between skeptic Republicans and Democrats who are likely to take climate change more seriously. Certain media strategies such as presenting equal weight to both sides of an issue also present the impression that there is limited expert agreement on climate change. Other framing techniques such as the morality and ethics frame and Pandora’s Box have also caused a divide in opinion. Nisbet proposes we change the way of framing the issue by creating stories that produce more relevance to a vast amount of social groups that will present climate change as a pressing issue that we must take action to prevent.

A study by Julia Corbett and Jessica Durfee also suggests that framing plays a key role in public opinion and uncertainty in terms of climate change. They gave groups of students stories about climate change that were either framed primarily in terms of context, controversy or neither to see what impact they would have on the students certainty of climate change. They predicted that those reading the context-based stories would have more certainty than those reading controversy-based stories, which proved to be significantly true in their results. The control group (no context/controversy) experienced the least amount of certainty. Through these findings, the researchers stated that inclusion of context will help to mitigate uncertainty even if some controversy in stories remains, as that is seen as an essential strategy to draw in audiences.

Both articles suggest that the ways in which stories are presented shape public opinion and certainty on the issue of climate change. I think that Nisbet’s opinion seems to be more politically driven and reinforces the clash of science and politics as it is portrayed in the media. Different techniques of framing will be inevitable, but it is a matter of finding which will appeal to the public in a positive way in order to properly inform them on issues and instruct them on what needs to be done to solve these issues. I think that making stories more relevant to the day-to-day lives of the public is an important factor, which was reinforced in the Corbett study. But how do we do this without either excluding groups or further creating a divide between parties? Do you think that reframing would be a step in the right direction, or would it create more uncertainties if the media is still trying to give equal weight to both sides of the issue? If there is an overwhelming agreement in the scientific community is it necessary to give equal weight to both sides, or is context more important in order to keep the public well-informed?

Week 7- Megan Geske

October 16, 2011 at 11:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized, Weekly Responses | 3 Comments

The public gathers most of its knowledge about climate change from the media, and so it becomes important to understand both the methods used to generate media messages and the effects they have on the audience. In Communicating Climate Change: Why frames matter for public engagement, Nisbet focuses on how the media conveys climate change, whereas in Testing Public (Un)Certainty of Science Corbett and Durfee look at the after-effects of new-stories. Both articles offer ideas for communicating the scientific certainty of climate change.
Nisbet discusses the frames currently used in the media that have enforced the climate change debate. America is currently divided on this issue along ideological lines, with Republicans questioning climate change, and Democrats accepting it. Nisbet notes a few key problems in the way climate change is presented: the fragmented media, the tendency to dismiss climate change because a lack of immediate and visible impacts, and the fact that “prioritization and opinion intensity on other issues eclipse general concern about climate change among public.”
Corbett and Durfee used an experimental design to test how controversy and context to a story about global warming influence readers perception of its scientific certainty. Corbett and Durfee found that emphasizing or adding controversy or disagreement between scientists heighten scientific uncertainty. Including scientific context, on the other hand, can help mitigate this uncertainty.
Both articles note that the current way climate change is presented in the media is problematic. Nisbet suggests employing frames that resonate with a person’s background and addresses personal informational needs. Corbet and Durfee suggest a better metaphor that emphasizes the seriousness of climate change, as well as the scientific certainty. The two articles also mention the fact that climate change does not have immediate or visible impacts, which allows the public to dismiss the urgency of the situation. A few years ago there was a media campaign to think of future generations, but this did not sway the public much as we are much better at thinking short term. Is there a way to convey the need for immediate action to the public?

Week 7 Post – Nisbet & Fortner

October 16, 2011 at 10:54 am | Posted in Weekly Responses | Leave a comment

The Nisbet article addresses climate change and the framing of the issue in the media. Climate change is still not one of the top domestic priorities for Obama and Congress, and a main cause of this is simply the public’s engagement with this issue; it is non-existing. But it isn’t the job of Obama and Congress to get these people actively involved with the climate change issue, it’s the media and the scientists. The goal needs has to get more people connected to the issue of climate change and the way to do that is reframing climate change. This ultimately means, “remaining true to the underlying science of the issue, while applying research from communication and other fields to tailor messages to existing attitudes, values, and perceptions of different audiences, making the complex policy debate understandable, relevant, and personally important.” There are  lot of barriers that are preventing the public to get engaged with this topic of climate change: human nature, media fragmentation, and partisan identity. To get around these, broadcasts need to frame these messages to a specific audience; “using metaphors, allusions, and examples that trigger a new way of thinking about the personal relevance of climate change.” This article also touches on the typology of frames that are applicable to climate change that we discussed in class.

Public Understanding of Climate Change: Certainty and Willingness to Act was a 10-week study prior to the 1997 Kyoto conference on climate change. Two studies were administered to test the hypothesis that media hedging is related to uncertainty. “Study one examined media portrayals of global warming and the certainty with which information was reported (percentage of ‘hedgin’); Study two was a telephone survey to assess public knowledge about key topics in global climate change, people’s certainty about their information, trust in the media, and willingness to take action on global warming.” With Study one, they found that media reports with which global warming and certainty were connected were very few. With Study two, half of the references to global warming were found to be hedged. So with comparing these two results it doesn’t support the idea that media hedging is related to uncertainty.

In the study’s results it mentioned that these 139 adults were fairy knowledgeable and certain about global warming and they would be willing to adopt a new set of behaviors that would be considered useful in countering global warming. It also stated that over 50% of them trust their media sources. We learned from the Nisbet reading that it is important for the media to frame the issue of climate change to reach out and connect with a greater audience. If the media is successful in targeting and receiving a larger audience, the study shows that more people are going to accept global warming. But what confuses me with the study is the fact that these adults say they are knowledgeable and are willing to adopt responsible behaviors to slow down the global warming, but this is only a small sample – do you think if we took 2000 adults from all over the US the results would be the same? Would there be less “consensus” with global warming? Do you think if the public accepts global warming that all will be willing to change certain behaviors that are causing it?

Week 7 Blog Post: Casey Krutz

October 16, 2011 at 5:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

In the reading, “Why Frames Matter for Public Engagement,” Nisbet presents that the opinion of the public is extremely important when it comes to issues, such as global climate change. Even if a powerful politician, like the US President, supports climate change, it is not nearly enough to support policy decisions. Support is needed from the public sphere. With climate change, Americans are divided on opinions based on political party. Republicans question validity of climate science and dismiss the urgency of the problem, while Democrats accept climate science and express concern for the issue. This has a key effect in how the news is framed. Republicans frame the issue as scientifically uncertain. There is also focus on the economic consequences of action, along with a conflict and strategy frame which provides false balance for which side is winning the debate and message strategies. Democrats and environmentalists emphasize the Pandora’s box/Frankenstein’s monster frame presenting climate change as a “climate crisis” accenting many visual and dramatic negative effects of global climate change. The public often sees these appeals of fear as fatalism, especially if there is no recommendation of how to respond to threats. Additional, many environmentalists and scientists focus on the public accountability frame for climate change, emphasizing a “war on science.” This has got many more scientists, environmental advocates and Democrats involved in standing up for global climate change, but the public continues to ignore the message and Republicans are further alienated from the issue. Nisbet makes it clear that the way global climate change is framed needs to change in order to be effective. One influential frame could be using the economic development frame to explain the positive effects that action on global warming could create in our economy, such as more “green” job opportunities becoming available. Other frames, such as morality and ethics, could also be used to emphasize climate change as a solvable and shared moral challenge. While the United States is still divided over global climate change issue, if new meanings and messages for climate change are used, positive change can happen.

In “Testing Public (Un)Certainity of Science: Media Representations of Global Warming,” Corbett and Durfee discuss the lack of public knowledge when it comes to global climate change. While over the last few decades the public has become more aware of global climate change, belief that is real is much less likely. The main source of news for the public is the media so they are majorly influenced on the way journalists’ stories are constructed. This piece focuses around an experiment done to examine why the public understands the global climate change in the way that they do, as a result of how the issue is presented in the media. There were three hypotheses in this study. Hypothesis one was that readers of newspaper stories that include context will be more certain of scientific claims than those who read the article with controversy only. This was supported. Hypothesis two stated that readers of newspaper stories with both context and controversy will have more certainty than readers of stories with only controversy and less certainty than readers with only context. This was also supported, but not significantly. Hypothesis three was the stronger the individuals environmental ideology, the stronger their prior certainty about the existence of global warming. While it was found that there was a significant positive correlation between environmental ideology and prior certainty about global warming, this did not have a main effect on the dependent variable of certainty expressed within news story, suggesting that respondents were able to differentiate to a certain degree between their prior certainty about global warming and certainty as portrayed in treatments. Mainly, the study shows that context is very important for assessing any complex issue, but journalistic news routines work against the inclusion of context. In an issue where there is uncertain and scientist don’t know everything, like climate change, this is often reported in a way making it seems as scientists do not know anything, which is not the case. While the media presents uncertainty as negative, in science this is actually a positive force that motivates scientists to move forward. Corbett claims that the key in public communication of science in general should not to be to deny uncertainty or the controversies of it, but to place the uncertain findings in the proper and objective context of scientific processes. While Corbett shows hope in the media by informing the public by at least showing some “snapshots” of the big scientific picture, this is not nearly enough for an issue that poses such negative consequences in our future.

Nisbet’s piece discusses the problems of how the media frames and reports the news, but also offers suggestions for solution and how the the media can change the way they report it. This problem and solution piece offers an optimistic look on how to possibly right the wrongs of the media in the climate change reporting. Corbett and Durfee’s piece discusses an extensive experiment to find how the media influences the public on climate change and how certain they view it as, examining context and controversy. However, while it makes clear that there is a problem in media reporting of the issue, the reading does not provide a clear solution to the problem. Both of these articles agree that the public is informed about global climate change mainly through the news media. They also both make evident that the journalistic reporting on global climate change must change in order to inform the public correctly and be more proactive in a serious issue that will affect the entire world.

My question: These two articles provide many ways in how the media reports the issue of global climate change. While the public has become aware of the issue, they still continue to belief that it is not a serious matter. Nisbet’s article offers a solution to the problem, claiming that there needs to be reframing in the news. Do you agree with Nisbet? If not, what other possible solutions so that the public is more informed on climate change?

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