Scientist Explores Role of Politics, Media in Climate Change Debate
The conference on Culture, Politics and Climate Change opened with a keynote address
by Raymond Bradley, professor of geosciences and director of the Climate System
Research Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Bradley recounted his
personal experience as a scientist battling what he said was political maneuvering and
As a well-recognized climatologist, Bradley participated in a study by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that assessed temperature change
over the past millennium. The panel’s report showed a dramatic change corresponding to
the industrial revolution and the accelerated release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
in the 20th century.
The report became the center of political debate and led to an inquiry by the U.S.
Congress into the validity of the findings. According to Bradley, the inquiry was
motivated by dubious political objectives. He argued that the investigation politicized
issues that were not inherently political.
“Science doesn’t have a political opinion,” said Bradley, “There’s no left or right in
gravity. It’s just gravity. And there’s no left or right in climate change.”
Bradley went on to criticize the media’s role in the investigation. By reporting that
scientists were accused of fraud without looking at the scientific basis of the report or
the political motivations of the inquiry, he argued, journalists were complicit in the
politicians’ goal of creating public doubt about climate change.
The conference is cross-disciplinary, bringing together some of the world’s leading
scholars in a variety of fields relating to environmental issues. Although the speakers
come from diverse disciplines, their interests cross paths in investigating how climate
science interacts with society both politically and culturally.
Chaired by Assistant Professor Deserai Crow, the conference is designed to start
conversations about how public policy deals with climate change, and how the issue is
communicated and understood in the public sphere.
The JMC’s Center for Environmental Journalism works on professional development of
journalists and generates research on media, the environment and society. The conference
is hosted by the CEJ and sponsored by the Cooperative Institute for Research in
Environmental Sciences (CIRES), CU Journalism and Mass Communication, Ads
a2b, the Committee on the History and Philosophy of Science, the Institute for Arctic
and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), the Environmental Studies Program, the CU
Environmental Center, and the International Environmental Communication Association.
For more details about the conference visit www.climateculturepolitics.com