Recent research in Environmental Communication examines the powerful influence of mass media portrayal of climate change and subsequent public identification with the issue. Climate change is often reported as an environmental issue, this depiction arguably lacks personal relevance to individuals. Weathers and Kendall study US reportage of climate change in a public health frame; a more powerful presentation for motivating public engagement and action against climate change?
The majority of the US public are known to largely gain their understanding of climate change from the mass media. Previous climate change communications have largely been from a scientific and environmental perspective, leaving audiences disaffected. Little coverage has raised public health consequences of climate change such as higher incidence of asthma, allergies, disease and heat stroke amongst many. Would US citizens alter consumer decisions and seek solutions to climate change if they realised the implications for human health in their own communities as well as the Arctic? The authors conduct a multi-year content analysis of 270 US climate change news reports in a public health context to assess quantity and style of reporting delivered to Americans.
A 2007 Gallup poll of US citizens revealed 41% to be personally worried about climate change. In 2010 this dropped to 28%. Is this correlated to media coverage? Consumer demand for dramatized news has dictated less coverage on climate change over the study period, but did the style of presentation change? Climate change articles were classified into public health related issues; general health, heat, weather, respiratory problems, water/food borne disease and vermin borne disease.