Seminar: Graham Beattie, Pittsburgh


Location: 3060F Jenkins Nanovic Hall

paper  "It isn't easy being green: the effect of environmental media coverage on driving patterns" 


Media coverage of climate change has been shown to be biased towards skepticism. Skeptical viewpoints receive considerable coverage despite being a small minority of the scientific research. In this paper, I investigate the consequences of this bias by studying the effect of media coverage of climate change on individual driving behaviors, which are a major source of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. I construct a measure of the tone of newspaper coverage about climate change based on comparisons of environmental and skeptical texts. I use this measure, along with detailed information about driving patterns, to show that households that have recently received more environmental coverage make travel decisions that reduce their emissions. These effects are strongest within one to two weeks of coverage and when there are lower-emissions substitutes available. By comparing the effect of environmental coverage to the effect of more skeptical coverage about climate change, I demonstrate that bias in media coverage about climate change has real effects on environmental behaviors.