Review of Twitter communication on climate change in 2017: Which events triggered tweets about climate change and to which domains do these tweets link to?
The analysis of our online media monitor (OMM) reveals that the number of climate change-related tweets has risen compared to 2016. Still – and this year even more – Donald Trump’s statements and action trigger most Twitter communication on climate change. This year’s highest peaks of attention were related to climate political events in the USA. Most tweets were published on 2nd June 2017, one day after US-president Donald Trump declared that the USA will quit Paris climate agreement. The second most discussed event was Trump’s order to review Obama’s clean power plan, in which he lifted the ban on coal leases and discarded expert thinking on true cost of carbon emissions. The third event triggering climate change related tweets was the inauguration of Donald Trump as US-president. In contrast, other political events like the climate summit in Bonn received only little attention. Besides events from the political sphere, also extreme weather events like Hurricane Harvey in August and Hurricane Irma in September triggered a huge amount of climate change-related tweets. One peak of Twitter communication in August 2017 was provoked by the release of a scientific report which concludes that Americans already feel the effects of climate change. This means that also scientific events have the potential to trigger debate, although in 2017 mainly political issues seem to have caused communication. Generally, it bears mentioning that almost exclusively US-American events received a lot of attention. This is remarkable against the backdrop that the online media monitor does not only capture tweets with the hashtags or key words #climatechange or “climate change” or “global warming”, but also the German word “Klimawandel”.
We also analysed the domains climate change-related tweets link to, i.e., which sources they use. A look to the Top 10 domains reveals that most tweets link to other tweets or other content published on Twitter, e.g. photos. Apart from that, journalistic news websites are the main source of reference. Especially the British newspaper “The Guardian” plays a leading role, followed by other rather liberal and progressive outlets like the “New York Times”, “The Independent” and “Washington Post”. Interestingly, conservative news outlets only appear in the Top 20 sources of reference, e.g. Breitbart. Not only classic journalistic outlets, but also innovative journalistic websites are among the Top 10 sources, e.g. “Inside Climate News” – a Pulitzer Prize-winning, non-profit, non-partisan news organization dedicated to covering climate change, energy and the environment, or “Thinkprogress”, an editorially independent news site of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Interestingly, also the hybrid outlet “Climatecentral” belongs to the Top 10 sources of reference. It is edited by leading scientists as well as journalists researching and reporting facts about climate change and its impact on the public.
Top 10 domains of the latest 365 days (state: 19 December 2017) that Tweets about climate change link to.
Our online media monitor (OMM) provides ongoing monitoring of the transnational online media debate on climate change by searching for related tweets. For already two years, the OMM collects Tweets if they contain the following hashtags or key words: #climatechange OR “climate change” OR “global warming” OR “Klimawandel”. Additional criteria are that the tweets got at least 5 retweets and contain at least one link.
The article analyses, if and to what extend the media coverage of the UN climate summit in Paris 2015 influences knowledge or problem awareness of climate Change in the German public. The results of a three-wave panel survey show that media coverage increases knowledge and problem awareness in the public only in certain aspects.
The Paper was published by Michael Brüggemann, Professor of climate and science communication at the University of Hamburg, Fenja De Silva-Schmidt, Imke Hoppe as well as Dorothee Arlt and Josephine B. Schmitt.
Der Artikel untersucht, inwieweit die Berichterstattung über die UN-Klimakonferenz 2015 in Paris den Wissensstand der deutschen Bevölkerung beeinflusst und sie für das Thema Klimawandel sensibilisiert. Die Ergebnisse einer Panelbefragung in drei Wellen zeigen, dass die Berichterstattung das Wissen und die Sensibilität für das Thema in der Bevölkerung nur in bestimmten Aspekten vergrößert.
Publiziert wurde die Arbeit durch Michael Brüggemann, Professor für Klima- und Wissenschaftskommunikation an der Universität Hamburg, Fenja De Silva-Schmidt, Imke Hoppe sowie Dorothee Arlt und Josephine B. Schmitt.
Our research group welcomes Ines Lörcher in our team. Since July 2017, Ines Lörcher is working as a research associate in our project on “Redefining the Boundaries of Science and Journalism”. She previously worked in a research project on “Climate change from the Audience Perspective” (funded by the German Research Foundation) under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Irene Neverla at the University of Hamburg from 2012-2017. She holds M.A. degrees in Communications, Political Science and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Mainz, Germany. She is currently working on a PhD project on the public’s appropriation of climate change. MORE
As a kick-off for a new research project, the research team of Prof. Michael Brüggemann organized a workshop at the University of Hamburg from June 21 to 23. The team discussed the changing roles of science and politics in times of post-normal science communication with national and international guests.
After an introduction into the debate of post-normal climate science by Hans von Storch, Stefanie Walter and Michael Brüggemann presented the planned research project. As external experts on their respective countries, Lance Bennett (University of Washington, Seattle, USA), Maxwell Boykoff (University of Colorado-Boulder, USA), Risto Kunelius (University of Tampere, Finnland), Saffron O’Neill (University of Exeter, UK), Hartmut Wessler (University of Mannheim) and Radhika Mittal (National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, Indien) provided their feedback.
The last day of the workshop was open to the academic public. The program included a diverse mixture of presentations on different aspects of climate communication – e.g. climate change and humour, the focus on economics in the climate debate and audience perceptions of climate change around the world – and attracted many interested guests; some international participants also followed the event via Skype.
At the International Communication Associations’ annual conference, which took place in San Diego/USA this year, researchers from our team presented first results from the Down to Earth project (“Climate Engagement in a Digital Age: Exploring the Drivers of Participation in Climate Discourse Online in the Context of COP21”) as well as research on how the COP21 was reported on Twitter (“Opportunity Makes Opinion Leaders: Analyzing the Role of First-Hand Information for Opinion Leadership in Social Media Networks”).
Besides, Michael Brüggemann was invited to a spontaneous interview with the online video literary magazine GuerillaReads, who “invited ICA presenters to share their work guerrilla-style. ”
More information and all other interviews can be found on their site.
Der amtierende US-Präsident ist nicht der einzige, aber einer der lautesten Vertreter einer “postfaktischen” Sichtweise, die sich durch die Leugnung von Verantwortung und einen Rückzug in Subjektivität auszeichnet und in der wissenschaftliche Fakten nach Belieben zur Kenntnis genommen oder ignoriert werden können.
Zu der Frage, wie sich Wissenschaft und Medien auf diese veränderten gesellschaftlichen Rahmenbedingungen einstellen und ein “Trump-o-zän” verhindern können, hat Michael Brüggemann einen Vortrag bei der Jahrestagung 2017 des Deutschen Klima-Konsortiums (DKK) gehalten.
Eine erweiterte und aktualisierte Fassung dieses Vortrags ist nun bei klimafakten.de und auf der Seite des DKK zu lesen.
Science Communication in the “Trumpocene” – How we can prevent the post-factual age
The recent political and medial changes labeled as the dawning of “the Trumpocene, a new epoch where climate change is just a big scary conspiracy” (Graham Readfern / The Guardian) challenge science and the media to find new ways in science communication. In a presentation for the annual meeting of the German Climate Consortium (Deutsches Klima-Konsortium), Michael Brüggemann has collected suggestions how to prevent the takeover of post-factual views.
Our Online Media Monitor has been collecting tweets for roughly a year now – time for a little retrospection.
The tool provides ongoing monitoring of the transnational online media debate on climate change by searching for related tweets. Tweets are collected if they contain the following hashtags or key words: #climatechange OR “climate change” OR “global warming” OR “Klimawandel”. Additional criteria are that the tweets got at least 5 retweets and contain at least one link.
In 2016, we see a slight increase in the general Twitter activity related to climate change – but, even more interesting, also some prominent spikes in the debate. We did some research to find out about which issues the climate change debate revolved on the relevant dates. Four of the five events that sparked the most activity took place in the last quarter of 2016 and had to do with Donald Trump.
Among the five most active Twitter users in the climate change debate are three non-profit organizations and two private users (from Australia and the US).
The most retweeted tweet was sent by BuzzFeed News, following the first US Presidential election debate. When Hillary Clinton accused Donald Trump of denying the existence of climate change and he rejected the statement, BuzzFeed cited Trump’s original tweet.
To sum up, 2016 was the year when the climate change debate got increasingly connected to the new US President Donald Trump. By now, his name also ranks highly in Google’s search suggestions related to climate change.
If and how the discussion will also center on Trump in 2017 is still to be seen – the OMM will monitor the debate as attentively as before.
Finally, the article „Beyond false balance: How interpretive journalism shapes media coverage of climate change” is available online. The article is an outcome of our project “Framing Climate Change” and was published by the journal Global Environmental Change.
The article explores the framing of climate change as a harmful, human-induced risk and the way that reporting handles contrarian voices in the climate debate. The analysis shows how journalists, and their interpretations and professional norms, shape media debates about climate change. The study links an analysis of media content to a survey of the authors of the respective articles. It covers leading print and online news outlets in Germany, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Switzerland and finds that climate journalism has moved beyond the norm of balance towards a more interpretive pattern of journalism. Quoting contrarian voices still is part of transnational climate coverage, but these quotes are contextualized with a dismissal of climate change denial. Yet niches of denial persist in certain contexts, and much journalistic attention is focused on the narrative of ‘warners vs. deniers,’ and overlooks the more relevant debates about climate change.
Free access to the article is available until February 18th 2017 via this link. Afterwards, the article will be available here.
Eine Zusammenfassung des Artikels auf Deutsch gibt es auf klimafakten.de
Auf der European Communication Conference in Prag haben wir erste Ergebnisse aus der Tagebuchstudie des Projekts “Down to Earth” präsentiert. Für den Vortrag wurden die Angaben zu den Gesprächen der 41 Teilnehmer über den Klimawandel analysiert, die sie im Zeitraum der Klimakonferenz in Paris 2015 geführt hatten.
Es hat sich gezeigt, dass – verglichen mit den wenigen bisherigen empirischen Untersuchungen zu Gesprächen über Klimawandel – die Teilnehmer überraschend häufig über das Thema sprachen. Dabei unterschieden sich die Unterhaltungen deutlich je nach der Beziehung zum Gesprächspartner: Mit engen sozialen Kontakten wie Lebenspartnern und Familie sprachen die Befragten vor allem über die Folgen des Klimawandels und mögliche Gegenmaßnahmen, mit Arbeitskollegen und Bekannten unterhielten sie sich eher über die Ursachen und den Klimawandel allgemein. Die Gespräche mit engen Bezugspartnern wurden oft als „gegenseitiger Informationsaustausch“ beschrieben und verliefen konfliktfrei, während in Unterhaltungen mit Bekannten auch gegensätzliche Ansichten aufeinander trafen.
Hier zeigt sich, dass persönliche Gespräche eine wichtige Rolle für die Information der Menschen zum Thema Klimawandel zu spielen scheint – einerseits zur Festigung und Wiederholung von Wissen (etwa mit dem Partner), andererseits auch als Quelle für neue Informationen außerhalb der eigenen Mediennutzung.
Die European Communication Conference ist eine große internationale Konferenz, die alle zwei Jahre stattfindet.
Recently, we have presented first results from our Down to Earthdiary study at the European Communication Conference in Prague. The presentation analyzed data about the 41 participants’ personal conversations about climate change that they noted during the time of the climate conference in Paris 2015.
The results show that the participants talked about the subject more often than expected from previous studies. The conversation topics differed depending on the communication partner: With their partner and family, the respondents talked mostly about climate change effects and their fears and perspectives for the future; the conversations were described as mutual, complementary exchanges. With acquaintances and colleagues, more diverse points of view tended to collide.
This shows that interpersonal communication is an important source for information on climate change – the respondents deepened their knowledge, e.g. with their partner, but also got in contact with different viewpoints than those presented in their own media use.
Results from our Down to Earth study have been featured in an article about the communication of international climate conferences. Imke Hoppe was interviewed as a spokesperson of our team by editor Jan Wisniewski from the magazine “Communication Director” and talked about the public’s perception of the COP21.
Unfortunately, the article is not available for free, but the first two pages can be read in the online preview of the issue (Communication Director 3/2016, pp. 50-54).