Accepted paper:

Threatening, dominated, vulnerable: visualizations of nature in the climate change communication of GEO and National Geographic.

Authors:

Dorothea Born (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates the visual climate change communication strategies of the two popular science magazines GEO and National Geographic. Comparing articles and images published within the two magazines, I ask what kind of natures are made (in)visible within climate change visuals.

Paper long abstract:

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges for humanity in the 21st century, radically putting into question traditional boundaries between nature and culture. Communicating this highly controversial issue has been a challenge for the media and scientists alike. Images are especially powerful tools in this endeavour since they help to personalize and localize this remote and abstract issue. Indeed, images of burning forests, dried up soils, flooded landscapes or animals in need readily come to mind when thinking of climate change. Yet, these visualisations also hold implicit conceptions of nature and contain normative statements about how humans should relate to the environment. This paper investigates the visual climate change communication strategies of the two popular science magazines GEO and National Geographic. Communicating to a specialized and highly educated public that also holds a multiplier function within society, these magazines are powerful actors in visualizing and imagining climate change, nature and our relation to the environment. Comparing articles and images published within the two magazines between 1992 and 2012, I want to ask what kind of natures are made (in)visible within these magazines' climate change visuals. Thereby, I explore how the political cultures and national contexts of the magazines' countries of issue impinge on the ways climate change is (visually) communicated and nature (re)imagined.

back to panel E04
Stream:
Assembly, silence, dissent
Meeting the visual