Anti-climate action statements get more visibility in news coverage, study finds

Read the full story from Brown University.

When organizations take a stand against actions to combat climate change, they get more news coverage than their pro-climate action peers, according to a new study by a Brown University researcher.

Rachel Wetts, an assistant professor in Brown’s sociology department affiliated with the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, analyzed nearly three decades of climate change-related press releases and national news articles. Approximately 14% of press releases opposing climate action or denying the science behind climate change received major national news coverage, she found, compared to about 7% of press releases with pro-climate action messages.

Wetts’ findings could help explain why Americans seem less concerned about the looming threat of climate change than their peers in other Western countries, she said, and why climate change policymaking in the U.S. is so often stalled.

Associated journal article: Wetts, Rachel (2020). “In climate news, statements from large businesses and opponents of climate action receive heightened visibility.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceswww.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1921526117

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