Picturing the Clima(c)tic: Greenpeace and the representational politics of climate change communication (1994-present)
Doyle, Julie (2007) Picturing the Clima(c)tic: Greenpeace and the representational politics of climate change communication (1994-present) Science as Culture, 16 (2). pp. 129-50. ISSN 1470-1189 (electronic) 0950-5431 (paper)
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Images of melting glaciers have come to dominate the pictorial language of climate change. This paper argues that photographs of melting glaciers engender a representational problem in the communication of climate change as they depict the already seen effects of climate change. Given the dominance of the photograph within Greenpeace campaigns, the paper examines this adherence to visual immediacy by analysing Greenpeace climate change campaign literature since 1994. Identifying five representational phases over the last decade, the analysis shows how a symbolic pictorial language of climate change was being created, and the ways in which risks were communicated as actual rather than potential. Understood retrospectively however, this visualisation calls attention to the problems of communicating environmental issues of a temporal (long term) and unseen nature through a medium of representation which privileges the ‘here and now’.
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