Climate change has been a significant area of scientific concern since the late 1970s, but has only recently entered mainstream culture and politics. However, as media coverage of climate change increases in the twenty-first century, the gap between our understanding of climate change and climate action appears to widen.
In this timely book, Julie Doyle explores how practices of mediation and visualisation shape how we think about, address and act upon climate change. Through historical and contemporary case studies drawn from science, media, politics and culture, Mediating Climate Change identifies the representational problems climate change poses for public and political debate. It offers ways forward by exploring how climate change can be made more meaningful through, for example, innovative forms of climate activism, the reframing of meat and dairy consumption, media engagement with climate events and science, and artistic experimentation.
Doyle argues that cultural discourses have problematically situated nature and the environment as objects externalised from humans and culture. Mediating Climate Change calls for a more nuanced understanding of human-environmental relations, in order for us to be able to more fully imagine and address the challenges climate change poses for us all.
Reviews: 'This is an insightful volume that challenges us to unpack and reconsider ways in which climate change becomes meaningful in our lives. In particular, author Julie Doyle has insightfully explored how imagery shapes our understanding, and how food consumption matters to mitigation efforts. Overall, Doyle has asked novel and productive questions that advance our shared considerations of climate and society.'
Maxwell T. Boykoff, University of Colorado-Boulder, USA
'How people think and feel about the idea of climate change influences the way they evaluate and act on the facts of climate change. In Mediating Climate Change, Julie Doyle examines this simple but important proposition and explains why and how this can be. Doyle’s focus on the multiple meanings of climate change, and how these can (dis)empower, is a necessary correction to the inconclusive and tiresome arguments about scientific (un)certainties which plague public debates. In so doing, Mediating Climate Change contributes to a much bigger and more profound project: reconnecting the human faculty of imagination and the material consequences of human action.'
Mike Hulme, University of East Anglia, UK
'… Doyle makes a very interesting contribution… taken as a whole I have no doubt that, for everyone who is interested in how climate change has been made culturally meaningful, Mediating Climate Change will prove an essential read… the intricacies of her analysis are captivating, and she undoubtedly puts forward some unique and interesting insights about how western society has come to understand, visualize, and act upon the issue of climate change.'
Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy
'… an eclectic look at various contemporary mediations on climate change… There is much of value in this book on purely academic grounds. Doyle argues persuasively that climate change communication in its various forms is indebted to visual discourse, and that the dominant visual forms (namely graphs, charts, photographs and videos) are paradoxical in the way they construct climate knowledge and lend it authority whilst simultaneously constraining our ability to really understand the multi-faceted phenomenon of climate change. Her analyses of the relationship in modern scientific thought between visibility and truth claims, and between enlightenment conceptions of nature, vision and time are especially insightful… this is a thought-provoking and erudite book, which will certainly be of interest to readers of this journal. I recommend it highly.'
'This fascinating new work from media studies scholar Julie Doyle addresses a central question which has long vexed science communicators - how to make climate change meaningful; relevant to people’s everyday lives and social practices. This is not, however, a guidebook for the communication of a complex technoscientific issue. Rather, Doyle presents us with a nuanced, thoughtful argument about the difficulties in mediating between scientific assertions and our capacities for imagination, narrative and creative engagement… This book is significant in its invitation to move beyond the linear idea of “communication” towards a dialogic notion of “mediation”… Doyle’s work is sure to inspire much discussion about the complex ways in which meaning is negotiated between diverse social actors in diverse places, rather than being simply “handed-down” by authoritative cultural entities. Processes of mediation intrinsically involve relational and indexical co-productions of meaning, and we are thus left to ponder the relationship between meaning-making and social action, in addition to the many ways in which “mediation” is a welcome addition to discussions of science communication and public understandings.'
Public Understanding of Science
'Doyle usefully breaks from earlier studies that have viewed the barriers to the effective communication of climate change as the same as those for other environmental problems… A strength of the book […] is the detailed and insightful analysis that Doyle offers of the techno-scientific methods and technologies used to quantify and define climate change in line with the practice of science in Western developed economies… Mediating Climate Change provides a worthwhile introduction to the expanding field of media studies of climate change, and one that advantageously abandons the framing of climate change as a purely environmental issue in favour of an approach that considers human angles and the efforts of a wide range of activist groups as well as mainstream media.'
Communication, Politics & Culture
'I warmly recommend the book. The many different perspectives on one topic make the book very useful in teaching. Firstly, because it demonstrates that even if society has one shared agenda, the actors in the media eco system each add their own perspective to the communication process and no single actor has the power to control the message. This is good from a democratic perspective. Secondly, the collection of analyses draws on many different theories and research techniques that students can discuss and be inspired by, including theories from cultural and media studies, cultural geography, and social science. And hopefully it will provoke students to engage in a productive and highly relevant discussion about the many different aspects of mass communication.'