EU and North American Media About Melting Ice
Dr. Anna Westerstahl Stenport
The European Union and other supranational and governmental organizations, including the United Nations and the Arctic Council, have produced a large set of audio-visual moving-image media products that present the impact of climate change from both scientific and societal perspectives. These products often combine visualization and abstraction of large-volume climate-change data generated by scientists at the European Space Agency, NASA, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with discussions of the social impact of climate change, often conveyed by interviews with local people. Building on established research expertise in the fields of Arctic and Media Studies, this project will identify and analyze the cultural and political considerations that undergird some of this media production, to discuss how governance and indigenous communities are positioned in media discourse as the environments of the far North are rapidly changing with far-reaching consequences for indigenous self-governance and decision-making processes in the regions and populations of Alaska, Nunavut, Greenland, and Scandinavia. Moving images are the most effective for conveying the impact of climate change in the global circumpolar North and melting/thinning ice is a convenient way to visualize the changes. Yet, the audio-visual moving image products distributed for educational or public service purposes by large organizations such as various branches of the EU are often less-than-well prepared or equipped to engage in meaningful ways with the local (indigenous) population and to convey the full cultural and social impact of environmental changes. This research project will analyze the competing agendas and ideologies at play in these moving image media products. The EU’s role in this enterprise is particularly important given the uncertainty surrounding the new US administration’s commitment to combating climate change. The course buy-out funded by this project will permit completion of this research.
Scott Mackenzie and Anna Westerstahl Stenport, “Vizualizing Climate Change in the Arctic and Beyond: Participatory Media and the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP), and Interactive Indigenous Arctic Media,” Journal of Environmental Media, 1/1, 2019: 79-99.