Scientists to what the general populous believes and understands

Scientists have known about anthropogenic climate change for over 100 years, beginning in the late 1800’s when Arrhenius released calculations of predicted warming due to human emissions of carbon dioxide.1 However it was not until the mid 1970’s, marked by Wallace Broecker’s publication of his paper, “Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” that scientists began to make quantitative predictions about climate change.2 In 1979 the first Global climate change conference was called in Geneva Switzerland, where scientists came to a consensus that fossil fuel burning was the cause of the warming.3 In the 1980’s scientific concern about the dangers of climate change increased. At a global climate conference held at Austria in 1985 and the Toronto conference in 1988 scientists agreed that global cooperation and reduction of carbon dioxide production was needed immediately to stop the progression of climate change.4 Also in 1988, scientist James Hansen made a plead to Congress in which he stated he was “ninety-nine percent confident” that global warming was caused by human actions.5 By 1990 the IPCC published their first Scientific Assessment of Climate Change, unanimously agreeing that global warming was real and caused by humans.6

Since the 1970’s to the present there has been a significant gap between what scientists are reporting regarding climate change in relation to what the general populous believes and understands about the issue. This gap can be largely attributed to media coverage. When looking at the media, the economic norm that journalists are constrained in order to make a profit must be considered.7 Companies that burn fossil fuels and readily contribute to the climate problem tend to be very wealthy possibly placing economic pressure on media corporations. There are also four journalistic norms to also be considered: objectivity, fairness, accuracy and balance.8 The

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1 Brown, 10

2 Brown, 11

3 Brown, 25

4 Brown, 26

5 Brown, 27

6 Brown, 28

7 Boykoff, 126

8 Boykoff, 126