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Department of Information Science and Media Studies

Kathrine Duarte

Katherine Duarte's PhD project is entitled "Communicating climate science in the media: The challenge of dealing with controversies and uncertainties in the coverage of climate change". Duarte's thesis is part of the research project "Climate Crossroads: Towards Precautionary Practices: Politics, Media and Climate Change".

The Climatic Research Unit (CRU) hacking incident came to light in November 2009, when 1.000 e-mails and 3.000 other documents where hacked from its servers at the University of East Anglia in England and made publicly on the web. This incident happened just a few weeks before the UN Climate Summit (COP 15), which took place in December. Climate skeptics meant that the leak of the documents was the “final nail in the coffin for anthropogenic global warming” (Delingpole 2009). Some skeptics claimed that this happened because climate researchers are not open about their research and that they do not deal with request of information by individuals properly. Perhaps the most damaging revelations, some skeptics would say, are those concerning the way climate scientists may variously have manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause. Later, several inquiries or reviewing panels found no fundamental wrongs in the science.

This thesis will try to answer the following research questions:

  • How does the media tackle uncertainty and controversy in climate sciences?
  • Has the climate coverage in Norway changed after Climategate? And how are these issues covered in the press?
  • Are skeptics given more space (compared to earlier)?
  • What is the verdict of the reviewing panel? And how does the media cover these reviews?

The thesis will address these issues with a quantitative content analysis from several Norwegian newspaper, a qualitative analysis of a climate skeptic blog, and several interviews with both climate scientist and journalists.