Risk News Analysis Essay Example

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
  • Page:
  • Words:

14Risk News Analysis

Risk News Analysis

Risk issue definition

Climate change is lasting and significant change in the distribution of weather patterns over time periods stretching from decades to millions of years. Climate change is a significant threat to fight against poverty and sustainable development. The warming of the planet is threat to prosperity to many millions and derail decades of development. Increased global warming is a worry to many experts. Experts warn that climate change will make human beings extinct. The recent IPCC report points to this fact. There is no doubt that climate change is a crucial issue that needs proper and responsible coverage in the news media. Mass media coverage has turned out to be an important contributor that has affected and shaped policy and science discourse together with public understanding and action (Anderson, 2009).
Representational practices of mass media have widely affected translations between policy and science and have influenced perceptions of a variety of issues of technology, environment, and risk. Climate change adaptation and mitigation require quick clarification and review.

Emissions’ mitigation is the reduction of greenhouse gasses that are being released into the atmosphere. For a long time the major aid to developing countries was associated with mitigation activities. Mass media plays a pivotal role in their portrayal and reporting of risk events. Risk events interact with social, psychological, cultural and institutional processes that can amplify or weaken perception of risk and influence behaviors. Behavioral responses result into secondary economic or social consequences. Amplifications of risk instigate demands for more protective action and institutional responses (Boykoff, 2008). Risk attenuation in media coverage is an obstacle to protective action. Consequently the emphasis on interaction of risk and social, psychological, cultural, and institutional processes may generate interpretations that attenuate or heighten public perceptions of risk, as well as influence risk behaviors. Social changes have disembedded and uprooted traditional patterns of cultural experience.

Coverage across the globe is controlled by politics as opposed to science. Climate change coverage has not taken center stage despite it being a crucial issue in this century. Global warming as a result of climate change has increased risks from hazards all over the world. Climate change news media coverage it controlled by politics rather than climate and weather factors, or by knowledge of climate science. Climate change discourses portrayed in the media have not been adequate to trigger political will for quick action. The relation between public awareness and media coverage of climate change is broadly recognized although increased media coverage does not translate to immediate change of public risk perception. Climate change media coverage is mostly conditioned by international systems of communication (Eskjaer, 2009). Climate change coverage, on the other hand, has contributed to the global flow of communication, demonstrating both the role of news media and globalization of media as a risk forum. Climate change media coverage has occasioned emerging globalised public forum concerned with shared public arguments and issues. Media representations encompass a broad range of activities as well as communication modes. Media exposure affects policy by influencing public perception of policy.

The climate change counter movement is an adequately funded and organized effort to undermine public faith in science of climate change and thwart action by the United States government to organized effort towards regulations of emissions. The countermovement entails a large number of organizations like advocacy groups, think tanks, conservative foundations, and trade associations, with strong connection to conservative politicians and sympathetic media outlets. The climate change countermovement has ecological and political impact on the world failure to act on the crucial issue of global warming (Anderson, 2009).
Many climate denial organizations have been established in the United States over time. Research traditionally looked at accuracy of media reporting with regard expert risk assessment. The intersection of climate science, mass media and policy is an especially high-stakes and dynamic arena of these communications. Climate change adaptation and mitigation both need discussion, and for them for media coverage and its effect differ.

Previous research on risk and news

There could be no agreement on how to overcome global climate change regardless of the negative risks being suffered by everyone in the international community. The governance of the international climate remains challenging and there is absence of any formal authority or institutions that have to deal with the effects of global warming that affects the entire world. Rothe (2011) explains and criticizes the paradox of the discursive struggle in politics regarding climate change. The underlying danger is that a compromised solution cannot be easily established. It has all been agreed that on the risks of climate change. Rothe (2011) suggest that Global warming and climate change have to be extensively discussed in order to reach consensus on solutions of climate change and the need for political governance. Issues to be dealt with before reaching a consensus solution include energy, health, and migration issues that affect many countries in the world. International cooperation on climate change has faced many obstacles. The international community has to come up with policies and practices that will conserve and preserve the international environment.

Nichols, Richardson and Maynard (2010) argue that Climate change has massive effects on the environment. Climate change will impact on the ecosystem and environment that may in turn be a cause of epidemiology diseases. Health care and environmental protection programs have to be promoted to adapt to or prevent the effects of climate change. Flooding resulting from climate change can cause severe water-born communicable diseases in the United Kingdom. The rising temperatures result into algal bloom in water sources. The escalating ambient temperature relating to climate change will cause widespread of vectors like mosquitoes that cause malaria. Many risks are found in the vector-borne disease and found in such things like humidity, soil moisture, and temperature (Nichols, Richardson & Maynard, 2010). The increase in the risk of food poisoning relates to the impacts of climate change.

Wilby and Keenan (2012) demonstrate the relationship between the risk of flooding and climate change. Global economic losses resulting from hazards like tropical cyclones, storms, and floods are escalating owing to population explosion. Cities have to adapt to flood risk owing to climate change at national, international, regional, and community level. Floods are damaging city constructions. Floods risks and benefits are not evenly distributed. Households and the public sector are hugely affected by floods. However, few people benefit from flooding following reconstruction projects. Adaptation measures have to be put in place owing to varying impacts of floods on different parties. Individuals’ and government good practices have to be initiated to deal with flooding that is a result of climate change. Adaptive management of climatic risks can be implemented in various circumstances. Flood risks as a result of climate changes have great impacts on communities and require persistent oversee to control vulnerabilities and damage. Uncertainty is a great risk from flood occasioned by climate change. The risk of flood has to be mitigated through city construction adaptation.

Sonnett (2009) identifies communication media as playing an important part in shaping the perception of public risk with regard of climate change and global warming. Climate risks are being shaped and disclosed by major media and linked to social structure. It is essential to comprehend the true risk dimensions and the manner of presenting the risk to the public. External definition of risk emphasizes on uncertain vulnerabilities whereas internal definition involve danger and experience. In order to understand journalistic as well as semantic fields of risk, there exist methods for presenting how they vary with girl to risk portraying and presentation. Reflective study is performed on the methodological framework. Environment and industry media are more concerned with actions as a result of the risks. Risk descriptions and risk solutions have to be overlooked and autonomous measures and autonomous measures taken to combine risk disclosure (Sonnett, 2009). Media need to be responsible and focus on the risk of climate change including how it impacts economy and society. Media should not twist information in order to serve political purposes. Climate change risk disclosure should be accurate and serve the needs of the public.

The cities in India have been greatly affected by risks of climate change like flooding, temperature change, and storms. Investment in infrastructure is crucial in the wake of climate changes. India is experiencing a range of ongoing issues like huge population and rapid economic development that can be impacted by climate change (Revi, 2008). The pressure on scarce resources and high population will increase following further climate change risks. Climate changes in India narrows down to health risks which are environment-related like water-borne and food-borne risks. Citizens in India face more risk from vector-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria. The challenge that is vulnerable to climate change in India is urbanization. Dwellers are affected by poor city management and poor infrastructure is evident. Climate changes are also affected by city governance as there is no strong establishment of social and economic construction in the society of India. Revi (2008) points out that climate changes risks in India are associated with urbanization and city management. Solving environment issues will also translate to better city and management and infrastructure investment.

The news coverage selected for analysis and justification

The news coverage selected for analysis is an article that appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on 2nd of April, 2014, adapted from Reuters. The title of the article reads: “Far deeper emission cuts needed to curb climate change: draft IPCC report”. The article goes to report that the world will require tougher controls or cuts on greenhouse gases, by both emerging economies and developed nations, to curtail global warming from going beyond the forecast limit. This is according to a UN draft report (Reuters, 2014). Rich nations, with the United States in the lead have to bring down their emissions by half by 2030 from 2010 amounts in order to keep warming under the permitted 2 degree Celsius limit over pre-industrial times. This is according to the draft seen by Reuters.

Asia that includes India and China, have to limit emissions to about 2010 levels by 2030 as being part of the world sharing. This is a difficult target for countries that have to burn more fossil fuels to being poverty to an end. Greenhouse gas concentrations stabilization will need rampart change in human societies as reported in Chapter six of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that was released later in Berlin (Reuters, 2014). Majority of governments are not putting measures for such tough curbs, worrying that they would be crippling economically. Temperatures are up exceeding the set limit, set by close to 200 nations in 2010, of two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times. However, the curbs show a shift in debate regarding climate change, which has hitherto emphasized on action by rich emitters. Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientist warns that consequences for many big emitters are very certain and all have something to be worried about. Alden spoke but he has not accessed the draft.

Nations that are developing have usually quoted the previous IPCC report of 2007 which spelt out that industrialized nations have to reduce emissions by between 40% and 25% below 1990 limits by 2020. There were no elaborate goals set for emerging nations. Cuts by rich nations are well less than the 25-40%. The European Union is contemplating cuts of 40% below the 1990 levels by 2030. The Berlin report concerning getting a solution climate change comes after an IPCC report concerning effects of warming release in Japan on a Monday that indicated that the entire world was not prepared for severe and almost irreversible change (Reuters, 2014). The IPCC report released on Monday illustrated that climate change was a challenge in all parts of the world and could affect food production, aggravate armed conflicts, and slow down economic growth. The report will give direction with regard to working out on a deal that can be used to counter climate change to be agreed at a summit that would be held at the end of 2015 in Paris. Under the direction of IPCC, former Soviet bloc nations will have to reduce emissions by a third by 2010 from 2010.

Latin America will be compelled to cut overall whereas Africa and the Middle East could increase emissions slightly. It does not provide goals for individual nations but groups. Another way is to allow the temperatures to go beyond the 2 degrees Celsius goal rise while looking for technological ways of cooling the planet like removing the greenhouse gases from air. But overshooting is very controversial, particularly in poor nations that risk being affected by heat waves, drought, as well as rising sea. Moreover, new technologies may not necessarily work. The chair of Alliance of Small Island States, Marlene Moses, that consist of some of most vulnerable countries argued that technologies were in place for rapid cuts in emissions with a preference for renewable energies over fossil fuels (Reuters, 2014). She explained to Reuters that cuts in emissions helped to reduce poverty, build energy, food, water security, and improve public health for communities that are vulnerable. IPCC report that at least 95% of possible human activities as opposed to natural variations are significant sources of climate change. Opinions polls in many countries indicate that voters are far less certain.

This news article has been chosen because it represents a typical case of how issues regarding climate change are covered in the media. It is a recent article that even has not hard resolution implemented. The article provides a chance of looking deeper on how climate change is represented in news media.

Analysis of selected news coverage

The article being discussed in this report appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 2nd of April but it is only an adaptation from Reuters. This means that Sydney Morning Herald did not see the need of sending its own journalist to the premier of IPCC release of the draft report and had to rely on Reuters to get the information. The news article is very brief and rushes through important issues without clear elaboration. The article is only 599 words and this shows how the media limits coverage of climate change. Many issues are highly summarized and can only be understood through technical guidance by experts. Seemingly Governments are not prepared for the further cuts on greenhouse gases but there is no alternative action discussed. Most governments fear the crippling effects on the economy resulting from the emissions cuts. Apart from China, India and the United States, the report has broadly referred to the great contributors to emissions. Blanket refers like emerging economies and developing nations may not make sense to someone who is not versed with economic terms.

Risk perception of the public concerning climate change is shaped by how media coverage of the issue is undertaken. This news article shows little expert assessment that could be vital to the lay public. The terms used in the news article cannot be easily understood by the lay public particularly concerning the agreed ceilings at IPCC report release. Choice of audience is very important and this shows the news article only target experts or scientists that are versed with the issue of climate change. Technical explanation to the lay public by the experts can going along way in triggering social constructs that result in development of action plan. Reporting on policy implications has been unclear. Technical risk assessment discusses the probability of the risk event and the extent of consequences of the event (Boykoff, 2008). The percentages carried in the news articles may not have any meaning to the general public except to experts who understand their interpretation. This is a draft to the main report that was released later but should raise the interest of the public and other stakeholders since effects of climate change affect everyone and need collective responsibility. Overt conflict among stakeholders increases risk coverage in the news. News framing has to go beyond mere description of news content.

The effects climate changes are very evident particularly in a country like Australia. Climate change has caused heat waves with temperatures reaching 43 degrees Celsius. Responsible and comprehensive media coverage of climate change is needed. The media has to report on the events leading to climate change instead of waiting for the effects like the heat waves, bush fires, and drought. Concern of climate change is raised emphatically in the media when bush fires are witnessed raging through national forest of Australia (Boykoff, 2009). The events leading to climate change are scarcely covered in the main stream media. As mentioned earlier risk amplification precipitate demands for more institutional proactive action and responses while risk attenuation is an obstacle to obstacle towards protective action. Cultural groups and individual perceptions dictate the social processing of risk. Risk has to be treated as a social construct. Information flow shows the risk and the accompanied behavioral responses. The media trigger secondary effects that are beyond the reach of the victims who are directly impacted by the risk. Both top-down and more reflexive model conversational models have to be encouraged (Anderson, 2009). Top-down risk communication model refers to the communication of expert to lay publics. Media frames have to be persistent patterns of interpretation, cognition, and presentation, of emphasis, exclusion, and of selection, through which symbol handlers routinely organize discourse, whether visual or verbal.

Dialogic risk communication indicates the importance of all stakeholders. The news article does not provide enough coverage to trends or statistics that can be used in the interpretation of risk (Smith, 2005). The photo carried in the article shows industry emission of greenhouse gases and healthy merino sheep in the foreground. There is the possibility of readers concentrating on the sheep and forgetting the main message being communicated in the main article. In the middle ground of the photo there appears a drought-like feature that shows the effects of climate change. The gap between creating passive information and occasioning collaborative environment for action has to be bridged. Emphasis has to be placed on identifying factors that determine news selection and presentation, and the way in which these factors influence images of the news content and perception.

The inability of new technologies in purification of air has not been explained from an expert point of view to be understood by a lay person. News article on climate change has to aim at instigating responsible individual behavior and if the lay public cannot understand the language used then it becomes a problem.

Implication for risk

Risk communication is a public battleground involving major stakeholders and lay publics each attempting to promote the validity of their risk response and assessment. Not every stakeholder has equal access to public opinion. Approaches of media studies broadens the understanding of the expert to lay publics divide; as well as the interpretation people have towards risks in their daily lives. Climate change media coverage has conspicuous influence on public opinion on climate change, as it acts as a mediator between the scientific climate change opinion and the trend caused hugely by human-induced emissions of the greenhouse gases (Smith, 2005). The manner in which media report on climate change has indicated a worrying trend. Studies in the UK and US tabloid press have shown that the media substantially understand the impact of scientific consensus on climate change laid down in IPCC reports in 1995 and 2001.

Dramatized news tends to overlook more comprehensive analysis of underlying problems in favor of portraying of movements of superficial events. Journalistic valuation with regard to drama can end up trivializing news content and it can lead to filtering out of news that does not have an immediate sense of controversy or excitement. Nevertheless, this practice does not particularly lead to reduced coverage. Hurricane Katrina is an example of dramatic event that received tremendous news coverage (Sampei & Aoyagi-Usui, 2009). Considerations of connections to implementation of international climate policy in the public forum were propelled further in this case following comments made by powerful political figures. The minister of environment in Germany pointed out how the American president has ignored economic and human damage that natural catastrophes like Katrina were disasters caused due to absence of climate protection measures. Risk communication has to be effective and responsible in order to reach the target audience and yield the expected results.


Anderson, A. (2009). «Media, Politics and Climate Change: Towards a New Research Agenda». Sociology Compass 3 (2): 166–182, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111%2Fj.1751-9020.2008.00188.x

Boykoff, M.T. (2008). «The cultural politics of climate change discourse in UK tabloids». Political Geography 27(5): 549–569, http://dx.doi.org/10.1088%2F1748-9326%2F3%2F2%2F024002

Eskjaer, F.M. (2009). Communicating climate change in regional news media, International Journal of Climate Change Strategies Management 1(4): 356-367, DOI 10.1108/17568690911002889

Boykoff, M. T. (2009). We Speak for the Trees: Media Reporting on the Environment. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 34(1), 431-457, doi:10.1146/annurev.environ.051308.084254

Nichols A., Richardson J., and Maynard V. 2010, Climate change and communicable disease: what are the risks, Journal of Infection Prevention 2010 11: 146, DOI:10.1177/1757177410364869

Reuters (April 2nd 2014), ‘Far deeper emission cuts needed to curb climate change: draft IPCC report’, The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney.

Revi A. 2008, Climate change risk: an adaptation and mitigation agenda for Indian cities, Environment and Urbanization 2008 20: 207, DOI: 10.1177/0956247808089157

Rothe D. 2011, Managing climate risks or risking a managerial climate: state, security and governance in the international climate regime, International Relations 2011 25: 330, DOI: 10.1177/0047117811415486

Sampei, Y., & Aoyagi-Usui, M. (2009), Mass-media coverage, its influence on public awareness of climate-change issues, and implications for Japan’s national campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Global Environmental Change 19 (2): 203-212,

Smith, J. (2005). Dangerous News: Media decision making about climate change risk, Risk Analysis 25 (6): 1471-1482, DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2005.00693.

Sonnett J. 2009, Climates of risk: A field analysis of global climate change in US media discourse, Public Understanding of Science 2010 19: 698, DOI: 10.1177/0963662509346368

Wilby R. and Keenan R. 2012, Adapting to flood risk under climate change, Progress in Physical Geography 2012 36: 348, DOI: 10.1177/0309133312438908