Polar bear

Using the media

Climate change activists and sceptics both attempt to use the media to promote their point of view

Former US Vice-President Al Gore, who received a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, achieved notable success with his 2006 film about climate change ‘An Inconvenient Truth’.

Opponents have attempted to portray the film as misleading, as some minor errors have been identified in it. There are plans for a follow-up film.

A highly sceptical film, ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’, broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK, was censured by Ofcom (the UK broadcast regulator) for misrepresenting scientists and failing to act with due impartiality.

Framing the argument

The climate change ‘debate’ is an example of framing – in which complex issues are communicated in a certain way to emphasise only certain aspects of them. Both sides of the debate attempt to frame climate change in different ways.

Some sceptic groups have tried to frame climate change in terms of stifling scientific debate. Those in opposition have instead framed the issue in terms of the threats that it poses.

For instance, activists have made the polar bear a strong symbol of the impact of climate change – a noble creature struggling to survive in a disappearing world. Likewise, the specific topic of flooding in the UK appears to be bringing the human impact of climate change more clearly into public focus.

Lead image:

EvilTwin21401/Flickr CC BY


About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Health and Climate Change’ in January 2009 and reviewed and updated in September 2014.

Ecology and environment
Health and Climate Change
Education levels:
14–16, 16–19, Continuing professional development