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Environmental Conflict and the Media


Edited By Libby Lester and Brett Hutchins

Has the hype associated with the «revolutionary» potential of the World Wide Web and digital media for environmental activism been muted by the past two decades of lived experience? What are the empirical realities of the prevailing media landscape?
Using a range of related disciplinary perspectives, the contributors to this book analyze and explain the complicated relationship between environmental conflict and the media. They shine light on why media are central to historical and contemporary conceptions of power and politics in the context of local, national and global issues and outline the emerging mixture of innovation and reliance on established strategies in environmental campaigns.
With cases drawn from different sections of the globe – Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe, Latin America, China, Japan, the Pacific Islands, Africa – the book demonstrates how conflicts emanate from and flow across multiple sites, regions and media platforms and examines the role of the media in helping to structure collective discussion, debate and decision-making.
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15 Climate Change, Media Convergence and Public Uncertainty: Robert Cox


While concerns about climate change have faded in the United States in recent years, actions to control greenhouse gas emissions have “rolled out apace” in other nations (E. Rosenthal, 2011: para. 7). Europe’s carbon emissions trading is expanding; Australia has begun to tax carbon emissions and has committed to link its carbon price to emissions-trading schemes in Europe and New Zealand; India has placed a carbon tax on both domestic and imported coal; and China’s latest five-year plan contains a “limited pilot cap-and-trade system, under which polluters pay for excess pollution” (Milliken, 2011: 68).

At the same time, the United States (referred to as U.S. throughout this chapter) has remained a conspicuous outlier in its halting attempts to address climate change. “Now that nearly every other nation accepts climate change as a pressing problem, America has turned agnostic on the issue” (E. Rosenthal, 2011: para. 2). This agnosticism has been due, in part, to a decline in the American public’s concern about global warming and corresponding doubts either that it is happening or that human activities are a contributing cause (Ipsos Global @dvisor, 2011; Jones, 2011; Saad, 2011; Harris Poll, 2011; Pew Research Center, 2011a). As columnist Paul Krugman observed, climate scientists in the U.S., while increasingly confident in modeling climate change, have become frustrated by their “inability to get anyone to believe them” (2009: A21).← 231 | 232 →

Why, then, has public doubt persisted in the U.S.? Two different but complementary explanations have been forwarded. By...

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