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John F. Kennedy School of Government - Harvard University

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Belfer Center Home > Events Calendar > The Public Divide over Climate Change: Science, Skeptics and the Media

The Public Divide over Climate Change: Science, Skeptics and the Media

Andy Revkin covering demonstrations on the international day of climate action in Copenhagen.


The Public Divide over Climate Change: Science, Skeptics and the Media

Series: ENRP Seminar
Open to the Public - Nye B, Fifth Floor Taubman Building
February 4, 2010
12:00-2:00 p.m.

Moderator: Cristine Russell

Related Project: Environment and Natural Resources


First in a new spring seminar series on "Climate Change & the Media," sponsored by the Belfer Center's Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

Climate change coverage has greatly increased in the international mainstream press and in the opinion-driven blogosphere in recent years, including the recent focus on "Climategate" science emails, the US congressional debate and the United Nations Copenhagen conference. Surveys show that the American public is among the most divided in terms of agreement with scientific findings that climate change is a serious manmade threat that requires urgent action in the United States and abroad.  The public divide appears to be increasing in this country, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.This seminar will focus on the role of the media in communicating about climate change science, policy and politics to the general public and the influence on public opinion. The seminar will look at ways to improve the public dialogue over climate change.

Andrew C. Revkin: The New York Times "Dot Earth" blogger and journalist, Senior Fellow, Pace University Academy for Applied Environmental Studies

Matthew Nisbet: Assistant Professor, American University School of Communication, "Framing Science" blogger, climate change public opinion expert

Thomas Patterson (discussant): Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, Shorenstein Center, HKS

All are welcome and invited to attend. Lunch will be served. Admittance will be on a first-come, first serve basis.

Mark your calendars for two upcoming seminars:

Thursday, March 4, 1:00-2:30 p.m. "Climate Policy and Politics: Covering Conflict in the Capitol, Copenhagen and Beyond." Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post; Eric Pooley, Nye BC, Taubman Building, 5th Floor

Wednesday, March 31, 1:00-2:30 p.m. "Techno-Optimism or Pessimism: 'Fixing' the Planet's Climate Problems." Bryan Walsh, Time magazine; Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone & The New York Times Magazine. Bell Hall, Belfer, 5th Floor

Speaker Info:

Andrew C. Revkin, one of the most respected and influential reporters on climate change, writes the popular "Dot Earth" blog for The New York Times, focusing on  environment, energy and global sustainability. He has been a pioneering multimedia science journalist for nearly three decades. After 15 years at the Times,  Revkin recently left his staff position there to become a Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University's Academy for Applied Environmental Studies. He has traveled the globe covering climate change, including the Copenhagen conference and three trips to the Arctic, and is the author of three books in addition to countless newspaper and magazine articles. Revkin has received  journalism awards from numerous organizations, including the National Academies of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Columbia University and has an honorary doctorate from Pace. 

Matthew Nisbet, Ph.D. is an assistant professor at the American University School of Communication in Washington, DC. He writes about the intersection of science, media and politics in the blog, "Framing Science." Nisbet is a social scientist who studies strategic communication in policy-making and public affairs, focusing on controversies surrounding science, the environment, and public health. His current research on climate change communication is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation where he is a Health Policy Investigator. He is the author of more than two dozen journal articles and book chapters, and serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Press/Politics and Science Communication.  He has also worked as a consultant to the National Academies, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Science Foundation and other leading organizations.

Thomas E. Patterson, Ph.D. is Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at the HKS's Shorenstein Center on the Media, Politics and Public Policy. His areas of expertise include public opinion, the media, and civic engagement. Patterson's book, The Vanishing Voter, looks at the causes and consequences of electoral participation. His earlier book on the media's political role, Out of Order, received the American Political Science Association's Graber Award as the best book of the decade in political communication. His first book, The Unseeing Eye, was named by the American Association for Public Opinion Research as one of the 50 most influential books on public opinion in the past half century. He also is author of Mass Media Election and two general American government texts: The American Democracy and We the People.


ENRP Program Coordinator
Environment and Natural Resources Program 79 John F. Kennedy Street Cambridge, MA 02138
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Harvard Kennedy School
Phone: 617-495-1351
Fax: 617-495-1635