Mocatta, G, Covering humans’ impact on the planet, in M. McKinnon and K Walsh-Childers (eds.) The Palgrave Handbook of Health and Science Journalism, (forthcoming 2023)
Most people derive their understanding of climate and environment from the media. How journalists select for public attention and problematise environmental harms is crucial for public understanding of environmental issues, and social and policy responses to them. This chapter therefore explores the ways news industry trends, journalistic practices and media production processes shape media coverage of the environment. It examines the role journalists have played in educating – and sometimes misinforming – the public about the science of anthropogenic climate change and other environmental harms like biodiversity loss, and points out how media themselves have become actors in environmental debates. The chapter explores the relationship between media and environment, followed by an examination of journalism on climate change, and then journalistic work (as well as silences) about biodiversity loss. Although these are undoubtedly interdependent crises, this chapter notes and addresses how media have tended to cover each separately – to the detriment of public understanding of these interlinking crises. This chapter also discusses key knowledge gaps at the media/environment nexus, and explores new, innovative frameworks for climate and environmental journalism.
Milstein, T., Mocatta, G., & Castro-Sotomayor, J., Media and Ecocultural Identity in K Chu, A Chang, A Ivakhiv, S Rust, M Tola and A López (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Ecomedia Studies (forthcoming 2023)
Environmental communication research and practice exist in a time of accelerating urgency. Anthropogenic environmental crisis is now the daily content and context of communication, making the field’s early self-definition as a “crisis discipline” (Cox, 2007) ever more apt. The ways we understand and practice communication are also deeply implicated in the unfolding of, and offering solutions to, anthropogenic climate catastrophe. At this moment – as scientists warn we have under a decade left to avert the worst effects of climate change and as a global pandemic caused by unsustainable exploitation of the natural world upends lives across the planet – we survey environmental communication as a field of inquiry and as a transformative force in our current trajectory. We address communication and environment through an ecocultural lens, understanding ecological crisis as a manifestation of untenable sociocultural orientations. In this context, we examine current imperatives and exigencies in communicating “the environment”. We argue that there has never been a more urgent time to better understand the role of communication in the shaping of our socio-environmental futures. The ways we succeed or fail in this endeavour will have profound implications for how – or indeed whether – we address the existential challenges we face.
Mocatta, G., Mayes, E., Hess, K. and Hartup, M.E., 2022. The trouble with ‘quiet advocacy’: local journalism and reporting climate change in rural and regional Australia. Media, Culture & Society (online first, published 15 June 2022)
Climate activists and environmental communicators stress that addressing the climate crisis requires both global and local advocacy for transformational change-making. While journalists in small, rural communities are known to actively advocate on issues for the common good, there has been little investigation of local media advocacy on climate change in rural Australia: a region at the forefront of global heating. This paper analyses the accounts of local journalists of their media coverage of the School Strikes 4 Climate in rural and regional Australia, as an empirical entry point for a conceptual discussion of local media advocacy in reporting climate change. We find that normative ideas about journalism coupled with polarised community views on climate change hindered these journalists from taking an advocacy stance. We explore and critique the tacit ‘quiet advocacy’ practices used by these journalists reporting on climate in rural and regional Australia.
Bellingham, R 2021. Reef pedagogy: A narrative of vitality, intra-dependence, and haunting. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 1-23. doi: 10.1080/00131857.2021.1917365
This article is a reexamination of the author’s understanding of pedagogy, aimed at developing an increased awareness of the provinciality, limits and blind spots of the pedagogy and knowledge systems of colonial modernity. It engages with particular Indigenous epistemological theorisations of non-human agency, with Haraway’s notion of multispecies entanglement, and with the Australian Great Barrier Reef in an inquiry aimed at noticing absences and hauntings of pedagogies of modernity, including the absence of ways of knowing and being without separability and determinacy and the damage that has come of this. This opens space for contemplating separability and determinacy as ontological difficulties contributing to socio-ecological crises of our time. The article is intended as a move by the author toward developing greater capacity to stay with the trouble of educating and living on a damaged planet that is fast becoming uninhabitable.
Bellingham, R, Michele, M., Bedford, L., Bellingham, R. A., Davies, K., Halafoff , A., Mayes, E., Sutton, B., Marwung Walsh, A., Stein, S, Lucas, C 2021 Earth unbound: Climate change, activism and justice, Educational Philosophy and Theory
This experimental writing piece by the Earth Unbound Collective explores the ethical, political and pedagogical challenges in addressing climate change, activism and justice. The provocation Earth Unbound:the struggle to breathe and the creative thoughts that follow are inspired by the contagious energy of what Donna Haraway (2016) calls response-ability or the ability to respond. This energy ripples through monthly reading groups and workshops organised by this interdisciplinary collective that emerged organically in January 2020.
Hawley, E. and Mocatta, G., 2021. “Fact-based dreaming” as climate communication. Popular Communication, 20(2), pp.91-104.
Documentaries have become an important avenue for climate change communication due to their ability to galvanize social change. Environmental documentaries have traditionally sought to motivate audiences through fear appeals, shock tactics, and a mode of address that is enraged, gloomy, chiding or disappointed. More recently, communication strategies for environmental documentary-makers have diversified, with positivity, playfulness, and solution-focused storytelling emerging as new possibilities for filmmakers seeking to inspire environmental change. The Australian documentary 2040 represents one such effort to “tell a new story” about climate change. In this article we explore 2040’s unique communication strategy of “fact-based dreaming”: a process which involves mobilizing the creative power of imagination to subvert established thought patterns while anchoring such imagination in present-time reality. We assess this strategy and argue that fact-based dreaming, itself a “childlike” strategy, is most productive when it incorporates the voices, imaginings and perspectives of children and young people.
Kirne, J., and Potter, E. 2021. Settler Belonging in Crisis: Non-Indigenous Australian Literary Climate Fiction and the Challenge of “The New” in ISLE, November 2021.
Extract: In the past decade, an increasing number of novelists have undertaken the task of narrativizing and representing climate change. In both the academy and beyond, this undertaking has often been theorized not only as representational but also as motivation to a “wider and deeper climate consciousness” (Schneider-Mayerson 474) in an overtly political and pedagogical project (Chakrabarty 2009, 2012; Rigby; Siperstein). Several theorists have suggested that imagining future scenarios such as climate change through fiction may be more effective as a communicative strategy, because of fiction’s capacity to “provide a personal viewpoint” (Pahl and Bauer 157), to enable reflection on a reader’s own “commitments and concerns” (Miall and Kuiken 351), and to ‘augment everyday cognition’ (Oatley 618). Similar sentiments echo in the literary market, as evidenced by the British writer Nina Allen, who noted that, celebrating the achievements of Cynan Jones’ 2018 novel Stillicide, many recent climate fictions might be…
Kirne J 2021. ‘Other worlds: Multirealist writing as a strategy for representing climate crisis’ TEXT Journal of writing and writing courses. Vol 25, No1.
This article advocates for the utility of multirealism for writing about the climate crisis. Seeking to contribute to scholarly debates that have considered realist literary fiction’s capacity to represent climate crisis (Clark, 2015; Ghosh, 2016; Lockwood, 2018; Johns-Putra, 2018), I advocate for a multirealist literary mode. This mode seeks to destabilise the ontological foundations of realism by assembling narratives that draw into focus the other possible worlds that coexist alongside western modernity without resorting to speculative or spectacular digressions that otherwise exceed the bounds of literary realism. In doing so, I advocate for the utility of practice as an imaginative space to radically reimagine the world and our engagements with it without needing to defer to a possible future. My understanding of how the multirealist text represents the ontological crisis wrought by climate catastrophe is informed by my practice-led research as well as the work of other writers and literary scholarship. Specifically, I conduct my discussion here with reference to a range of ecocritical works, before turning my attention to Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead(2018), as well as my short story, “A Still Thing Shaken” (2019).
Schmitt, C.R., Mocatta, G. and Tate, J.M., 2021. Rhetorical Approaches in Environmental Communication. In B. Takahashi, J. Metag, J. Thaker & S. Evans Comfort (eds.) The Handbook of International Trends in Environmental Communication (pp. 70-87). Routledge, New York.
This chapter identifies and examines global trends in rhetorical approaches to environmental communication—symbolic and discursive frames that influence awareness of and orientation to environmental phenomena. It begins by defining and situating rhetorical approaches within environmental communication more broadly, then highlights six especially prominent (and sometimes overlapping) frame-types traceable during the early decades of the current millennium: those that decenter the human; those that prioritize specific human communities and needs; those that emphasize competition for resources; those that raise an alarm on resource exhaustion; those driven by appeals to fear; and those driven by appeals to hope. The chapter builds from contemporary criticism and theory that situate rhetorical analysis as an ethically and socially grounded practice, attending to where and how rhetoric dominates, oppresses, and silences, and then also presenting alternatives to existing or limited frames. Accordingly, amid the six core trends highlighted, the chapter thus also highlights recurrent frames for justice and equality in recent global rhetorical approaches. The chapter serves as an orientation to the larger discussions within environmental rhetoric and as a snapshot of major points of discussion in the field at this period in global history.
Taylor., N.A. 2021. The Visual Politics of Maralinga: Experiences, (Re)presentations, and Vulnerabilities, Journal of the History of Biology, Vol 54
Visual cultures are being increasingly discussed in the history of science literature, although relatively very little of that work concerns the nuclear age. In addition, within the discrete yet bourgeoning literature on global nuclear art and culture, Oceania is often overlooked despite its central role in the development of the American, British, and French nuclear weapon capabilities, as well as their associated colonial legacies. This article serves to redress both concerns by examining the visual politics of Maralinga in relation to settler-colonial and Aboriginal experiences, vulnerabilities and (re)presentations. I do so by surveying artworks with a connection to the Australian experience of nuclear colonialism and find that the figure of biological life has been conspicuously left absent from contemporary non-Indigenous Australian depictions of British nuclear testing in Australia
Demetrious, K 2020. ‘Loss, awakening and American exceptionalism: A moment in contemporary US political communication’ Ethical Space: International Journal of Communication. Vol 17, No 2. 15-23
This paper analyses the website Republican Voters Against Trump (RVAT) before the 2020 US presidential election through the lens of a guiding visionary narrative: American exceptionalism. It argues that RVAT’s political critique is focused largely on President Donald J. Trump as a flawed individual rather than on the elite forces which propelled him into office. The dissenting intra-party activity performs as a values-based awakening, responding to feelings of embarrassment and shame amongst others, generated by the presidential communications and policy directions. The testimonials provoke the Republican Party to commit to interdependent ethical approaches and policies that reclaim a sense of decency. This study of contemporary US political communication sheds light on the growing appetite for relational ethical approaches and analyses potential impacts and implications for change in the conservative political imagination.
Mocatta, G. & Hawley, E., 2020. ‘The coronavirus crisis as tipping point: communicating the environment in a time of pandemic’, Media International Australia, 177, (1) pp. 119-124.
This essay examines media and environment during the pandemic through the conceptual lens of environmental communication. We take the pulse of environmental communication under COVID-19, noting that while the quantity of media coverage on key environmental issues has fallen during the blanket coverage of the pandemic, COVID-19 has acted on multiple levels as a moment of discursive change in environmental communication. We contend that mediatised discourse on the environment during the pandemic has offered new insights, and an opportunity for a reset in environmental understandings, including a new consciousness of global connectedness in environmental responsibility, and an opportunity to improve publics’ environmental literacy.