Title

Views of Climate Change: how the news influences climate change denial in rural America.

Document Type

Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 4-14-2019

Conference Name

National Conference of Undergraduate Research 2019

Conference City

Kennesaw, Georgia

Conference Dates

4/10/2019-4/13/2019

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Skewes

Abstract

Climate scientists believe that humanity has just about twelve years to solve climate change. As the second largest polluter in the world, this leaves the United States in a position of power and global responsibility. However, the United States has seen a rise in climate change denial since the late 1980s, when scientists discovered what the media dubbed an “ozone hole.” Previous research suggests that some abstract messaging on climate change in the media — as well as polarized news choice, objectification of natural phenomena and growing distrust in mainstream news — is in part responsible for growing skepticism about the validity of climate science on the part of both the general population and powerful governmental figures. This project uses interviews and a nationwide survey to help examine which factors affect individual climate opinion and trust in the news. Using a long-form multimedia journalism piece, this project also profiles individuals in rural West Virginia with skeptical views on climate change and media professionals with experience covering environmental issues in these areas. This project aims to provide journalists with context for better, more effective climate change communication that can appeal people of all social, economic, educational and political backgrounds in the United States.

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