Cross-national comparison of the presence of climate scepticism in the print media in six countries, 2007–10

Painter, James; Ashe, Teresa

Previous academic research on climate scepticism has tended to focus more on the way it has been organized, its tactics and its impact on policy outputs than on its prevalence in the media. Most of the literature has centred on the USA, where scepticism first appeared in an organized and politically effective form. This letter contrasts the way climate scepticism in its different forms is manifested in the print media in the USA and five other countries (Brazil, China, France, India and the UK), in order to gain insight into how far the US experience of scepticism is replicated in other countries. It finds that news coverage of scepticism is mostly limited to the USA and the UK; that there is a strong correspondence between the political leaning of a newspaper and its willingness to quote or use uncontested sceptical voices in opinion pieces; and that the type of sceptics who question whether global temperatures are warming are almost exclusively found in the US and UK newspapers. Sceptics who challenge the need for robust action to combat climate change also have a much stronger presence in the media of the same two countries.