The scientific community agrees that the planet is warming up due to human interference, but there is no consensus on the nature and the extent of the risks and how to tackle them. Each stakeholder interprets risks and solutions as he sees fit and communicates accordingly. People find it very difficult to understand or interpret the facts underlying climate change that can actually be verified scientifically. Those who want to know and assess facts, risks or responsibilities, have to turn to what the media publish. This series of lectures has examined the communications concerning climate change:
- The media discourse: media professionals sift through the huge mass of information provided to them by scientists, politicians, industry, think-tanks, social movements and pressure groups according to their values or ideological beliefs. On 6 May 2011 Anabela Carvalho (Professor of Communication Sciences, University of Minho) showed how European newspapers report on climate change and, by selecting scientists, influence the news coverage. In a panel debate, Pieter Maeseele (Department of Communication, University of Antwerp) tested these findings against the backdrop of media practices in Flanders.
- The discourse of environmental economists: on 26 May 2011, two environmental economists illustrated the broad range of opinion within the prevailing
discourse on the costs and benefits of climate policy. Jeroen Van Den Bergh (researcher at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Vrije Universiteit
Amsterdam) presented twelve visions that are acceptable in his opinion. Peter Tom Jones (research manager, K.U.Leuven) pointed out the implications of
accepting the goal of reducing environmental emissions by factor 10. This would necessitate a drastic shift in structures, cultures and practices which
public authorities are very reluctant to follow through.
- A social-cultural discourse: on 9 June 2011, Mike Hulme (Professor of Climate Change, University of East Anglia) projected an alternative setting for the debate. Viewing climate change as a universal problem that can be solved once all noses point in the same direction is utopian. It is better if the debate were transformed into a creative exchange on the new economic, political, social and cultural projects we would like to share as citizens of the world. Stijn Neuteleers (K.U.Leuven) unveiled the new ecological political theory that is in the making in between liberal egalitarianism and communitarianism.
Back to Social Justice