Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Informing the Electorate

I introduced an empirical assessment from Brulle et al 2011 in my last post and thought the release of a study by MediaMatters last week was very apt. The authors point to both media coverage, and statements/voting from Republican and Democrat officials as drivers of change in public opinion on Climate Change. These factors form over 50% of the change in their Climate Threat Index, or how highly the public perceive climate change to be a problem. Research from Media Matters then shows us how little time Network News coverage spent on key issues including Climate Change. Despite environmental issues being the 3rd most mentioned in political advertisements 65% of coverage of the American Midterms didn’t discuss, introduce or educate on any of the key issues. The change to a Republican control in both Houses will have huge implications on environmental policy and the public need more sources of information on science and policy. Whilst I don’t advocate press regulation science institutions need to step up their efforts to ensure that we have an informed electorate who understand the rationale behind issues and thus how policy changes will affect them. With the 2015 UK general election coming up Climate change needs to be reestablished as the hotly debated issue it was in 2010/11.

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