The Semantics of Climate Change and Global Warming

Timothy GannUniversity of California, Merced
Teenie MatlockUniversity of California, Merced


Creating consensus and facing the challenges of climate change requires effective climate communication. However, consensus about issues relating to climate science is unlikely to happen when there isn’t a clear public consensus about which name is more appropriate, “climate change,” or “global warming,” and what those terms mean. Previous research has shown that perceptions of these terms varies, depending on factors such as the audience’s political affiliation. To investigate this further, we analyzed two corpora from partisan online news using a high dimensional semantic analysis. This study found that while there is substantial semantic overlap between the terms “climate change” and “global warming,” there is less overlap in the conservative media corpus. The results also show that there was a larger proportion of conservative articles that preferred to use “global warming” exclusively, whereas progressive articles tended to use “global warming” to supplement “climate change.”


The Semantics of Climate Change and Global Warming (133 KB)

Back to Table of Contents