Mike Hulme on UK press scaremongering

"Campaigners, media and some scientists seem to be appealing to fear in order to generate a sense of urgency.”

- Dr. Mike Hulme, writing in Nature

Hulme, a Professor in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, UK and the Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, expressed concern about the spin that UK newspapers placed on the recently released report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group.

Writing in a recent letter to the Editor of Nature, Holme points out that while the headlines and language of American papers he surveyed tended to reflect a neutral attitude, the UK press coverage was supercharged with adjectives that did not appear in the actual IPCC report, such as "catastrophic", "shocking", "terrifying" and "devastating". What's more, they featured scaremongering headlines like "Final warning" and "Worse than we thought", making the situation sound a lot direr than their American counterparts did.

Hulme said, “If they want to engage the public in responding to climate change, this is unreliable at best and counter-productive at worst.” Instead, the American’s spin embraces a tone that “facilitates a less loaded or frenzied debate about options for action.”

You can read the rest of Hulme’s letter here.