The portrayal of climate change in political discourse and its connection to natural disasters

Mass media and the environment. Communication in the environmental sciences.

The portrayal of climate change in political discourse and its connection to natural disasters

Simon Dalby Preliminary draft only: More is needed than political geography writ large: Picking up these themes, this lecture explores how taking the physicality of climate change seriously requires a rethinking of politics in the face of numerous transformations in what is becoming a more obviously artificial planetary assemblage that makes human life possible in the Anthropocene.

The discussions in earth sciences and the very limited success of initiatives in governance in formal negotiations concerning climate change both suggest that scholars require a more sophisticated understanding of the processes of transformation and the possibilities for innovation in governance to deal with mitigation measures as well as adaptation and geoengineering.

Geopolitical analysis needs to incorporate these new developments if it is to effectively grapple with contemporary changes. Struggles for political dominance is the most obvious meaning of the term and one that comes with the implicit suggestion that this is a matter that is to be understood at the global scale.

Simon Dalby

It is about the spaces of politics, the geographies of rule, authority and frequently violence. As a generation of critical geopolitics scholarship has made clear, geopolitics is about the modes of knowledge, of ways of representing the world that have political consequences Dodds, Kuus and Sharp In this sense geopolitics is quite literally about how the world is made known.

The geographical terms in the scripts used by politicians, the images conjured up by those who represented foreign places, and their specification in terms of having attributes requiring certain forms of policy are ubiquitous modern political practices Agnew These are obviously literary practices where geopolitical discourse is routine.

But more than textual matters structure the practices of global politics even if the other forms of knowledge, numerical and computational, discussed below, are rendered back into text in the key practices of decision-makers and in the justifications used in policy documents, political speeches and media punditry.

Popular imaginations are shaped by multiple modes of political discourse, and in the case of climate change in particular, by numerous invocations of nature, threat and most recently severe storms and unusual droughts and heat waves in contemporary media Boykoff How science relates to politics, and how various types of knowledge become politically useful is unavoidable in all this Hulmeas it has long been in discussions of geopolitics.

But the context in which climate and geopolitics might be linked has, this lecture will argue, changed dramatically over the last century in particular. The green revolution and the relationships between weather and crop yields are not unrelated to the calculations of geopolitics Perkins ; cold war scholars will remember the importance of satellite-based estimates of the Soviet harvest.

North Korea watchers do similar calculations today. Climate has become once again a matter for explicit geopolitical deliberation, but in very different terms than it was in the previous manifestations of what have become known as classical geopolitics Webersik The emergence of climate change as a matter of increasing urgency in global politics requires us to engage with some of these themes again it seems Pascal This lecture starts there.

Subsequent sections deal with how the atmosphere was a key arena for the cold war, how climate science is tied into geopolitics through this period and how contemporary climate fears have become part of security discourse.

Climate Change Essays Sub-Topics in Climate Change. The Portrayal of Climate Change in Political Discourse and Its Connection to Natural Disasters. 3, words. 13 pages. Humanity's Contribution to Climate Change Through the Emission of Greenhouse Gases. words. 3 pages. Whilst it is acknowledged that most scientists refuse to link current disasters directly to climate change, it is clear that there is some connection, and that there has been an increasing trend in the number and ferocity of natural disasters over the past few years. Popular imaginations are shaped by multiple modes of political discourse, and in the case of climate change in particular, by numerous invocations of nature, threat and most recently severe storms and unusual droughts and heat waves in contemporary media (Boykoff ).

Much of the early work of the twentieth century on these themes of environmental causation and the influence of climate on the course of human history have been dismissed as being determinism if not racist or imperialist myopia.

The latter point is particularly important, as Mike Davis makes so clear in his Late Victorian Holocausts. There remains a very powerful politics to natural explanations of social phenomena that allow the rich and powerful to evade their responsibilities while attributing human suffering to natural causes.

Nonetheless to argue that all discussions of climate as a constraint, if not a cause of human history, should be dismissed is to fly in the face of much research in environmental history that has of late richly added to the understandings of earlier phases of the human condition Hornborg, McNeill and Martinez-Alier This is all the more important because of the popularity of Malthusian the premises of environmental scarcity as the cause of all sorts of contemporary insecurities Dalby Rendering earlier theories in terms of possibilism rather than determinism is an altogether safer intellectual strategy, not least because there are environmental constraints on many human activities, only perhaps most obviously such things as particular modes of agriculture that can be undertaken in what parts of the world due to rainfall availability and the constraints of nutrient availability and the numbers of degree days needed for crop maturation.

Likewise disease prevalence is related in some ways to ecological conditions necessary for vectors to flourish; tropical diseases are mostly so called for obvious reasons. The most obvious shortcomings of arguments that are widely dismissed as determinist frequently relate to the overly simplistic geographies that support the arguments.

As geographers have been arguing for a long time these convenient naturalizations of artificial cartographic convention Fall work well to obscure social and economic matters that flow across the boundaries demarcated on maps and territories.

In the process the responsibilities that go with those cross boundary activities are elided in favour of simple specifications of here and there, and usually virtuous proximity and dangerous, threatening of morally flawed others elsewhere.

All this is especially dangerous when, as is sometimes the case, it now feeds into the geopolitical discussions related to contemporary climate matters. It is dangerous, as the rest of this lecture will argue, mostly because it so dramatically misconstrues the nature of contemporary transformations.

The portrayal of climate change in political discourse and its connection to natural disasters

This misconstrual can be very politically useful to those who either wish to proceed on present trajectories or those who 5 warn of the need for military preparations to deal with what is coming.In , further availability of political and scientific sources triggered a peak in media coverage of global climate change.

Meanwhile, conflicts over geopolitical inter- ests in international diplomacy led nation-states to group accordingly and hold others accountable for global warming.

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- The Washington Post

Climate Change Essays Sub-Topics in Climate Change. The Portrayal of Climate Change in Political Discourse and Its Connection to Natural Disasters. 3, words. 13 pages. Humanity's Contribution to Climate Change Through the Emission of Greenhouse Gases. words. 3 pages.

The portrayal of climate change in political discourse and its connection to natural disasters

Climate change adds great urgency to the task of changing the current implicit contextualizations in geopolitical discourse that structure how the world is made known to its political subjects, and hence how those subjects might act politically.

The Geopolitics of Climate Change | Simon Dalby - schwenkreis.com