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2 - Roots and culture

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Maxwell T. Boykoff
Affiliation:
University of Colorado Boulder
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Summary

People make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living

Marx, 1891, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 15

Today’s media representations are manifestations of past themes, resonant tropes and collective institutional as well as individual memories. By examining current media narratives, we can delve into histories of scientific and policy endeavours that have sought to understand as well as govern climate processes and effects. Through such undertakings taken up in this chapter, we can identify and ponder moments of critical discourse that have shaped ongoing climate storylines.

Scientific pursuits to make sense of climate change have a long and rich history; however, a historical look at how climate has been communicated through mass media is comparably shorter and much less developed. In Annals of the Former World, writer John McPhee provided the analogy that the 4.6 billion-year history of time on Earth can be considered as distance from fingertip to fingertip with one’s arms spread wide. He wrote, ‘the Cambrian begins at the wrist … all of the Cenozoic is in a fingerprint, and in a single stroke with a medium-grained nail file you could eradicate human history’ (McPhee, 1998). Considered in this way, it would merely take a fine-grained nail file to remove the history of science communications and mass media. In fact, before the late 1980s, media portrayals of ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ were sporadic, compared to the amount of coverage in most regions around the world today (see Figure 2.1).

Type
Chapter
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Who Speaks for the Climate?
Making Sense of Media Reporting on Climate Change
, pp. 30 - 52
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2011

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  • Roots and culture
  • Maxwell T. Boykoff, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Book: Who Speaks for the Climate?
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511978586.003
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  • Roots and culture
  • Maxwell T. Boykoff, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Book: Who Speaks for the Climate?
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511978586.003
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Roots and culture
  • Maxwell T. Boykoff, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Book: Who Speaks for the Climate?
  • Online publication: 05 June 2012
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511978586.003
Available formats
×