Communicating climate change: public responsiveness and matters of concern
Potter, Emily and Oster, Candice 2008, Communicating climate change: public responsiveness and matters of concern, Media international Australia, incorporating culture and policy, no. 127, pp. 116-126.
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Media international Australia, incorporating culture and policy
University of Queensland, School of English, Media Studies & Art History
Place of publication
Since climate change captured global attention in the 1990s, the private individual, addressed as a member of a concerned public, has occupied a focal position in the discourse of environmental amelioration. Recently, a range of prominent books, films and television programs — for example, Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers (2005), Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006) and ABC TV’s Carbon Cops (2007) — have promoted the role of the individual as the ‘starting point’ for effective environmental action. These texts assume that the provision and comprehension of sufficient information to the public about climate change will change individual habits and practices. This accords with the ‘information-deficit model’ in environmental communication research, a concept that asserts a direct connection between individual awareness and response, and collective action. This paper discusses the limitations of this model, pervasive in both popular and official approaches to climate change. It will interrogate the philosophical assumptions that underlie it, in which nature and culture are polarised and the human is positioned in a certain, and separate, relationship to the non-human world — an inheritance of the very logic that enables the continued exploitation of nature. Applying Bruno Latour’s notion of a ‘matter of concern’ to climate change, where the gathering of a range of irreducible forces and im/materialities continually produce these phenomena, this paper proposes that, in thinking about climate change as essentially unrepresentable, a different mode of public engagement with the issue is asserted.
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Field of Research
199999 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing
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