Media coverage of climate crisis is tied to wealth

Sept 2019—Researchers studied media reports on climate change from 45 different countries, and found the most predictive aspect of the approach was GDP per person.

Richer nations tend to politicize the issue, while poorer nations more often present it as a problem of international concern, according to a new study published in the journal Global Environmental Change. Researchers in Kansas and Vietnam analyzed more than 37,000 news articles from 45 countries and territories using computer algorithms and found that the strongest predictor of how a given country’s press will cover climate change is Gross Domestic Product per capita. In short: The way a country’s media reports on global warming is based on the resources available to combat it.

Richer nations tend to frame it as a scientific issue, and then argue about the science. Poorer nations which don’t have the resources without international aid to adapt to changing conditions, talk about it as needing a global effort. The US notwithstanding, many of the rich nations see it as a problem and are working to clean up their own act. Poorer nations see this as a legacy, a moral issue; the rich nations generated the vast majority of the greenhouse gases to increase their own living standards so they should pay to clean it up.

Now that you know this, watch for the bias in the news and make an effort to read news from “the other side.”