ESRL/PSD Seminar Series

The cultural politics of climate change: Focusing on mass media

Maxwell Boykoff
Assistant Professor, CU/CIRES Center for Science & Technology Policy Environmental Studies Program


Mass media serve vital roles in communication processes between science, policy and the public, and often stitch together perceptions, intentions, considerations, and actions regarding climate change. Many dynamic, non-linear, contested and complex factors contribute to how media outlets portray various facets of climate change. In this seminar talk, I will touch on salient and swirling contextual factors as well as competing journalistic pressures and norms that contribute to how issues, events and information have often become climate 'news'. I will specifically focus my attention on how particular problems and snags in the web of interaction between science, media, policy and the public have contributed to critical misperceptions, misleading debates, and divergent understandings – that are detrimental to efforts that seek to enlarge rather than constrict the spectrum of possibility for responses to climate challenges. Finally, I will work to situate these dynamics in the context of a wider 'cultural politics of climate change', where formal climate science and governance link with everyday activities in the public sphere.

Past seminars: 1996-2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009