The Moral Rhetoric of Climate Change


Communication in the media about climate change in the United States is complicated by the intensely ideologically polarized state of the debate surrounding the issue; moral rhetoric is an important dimension of how ideology is communicated. In this study we examined how moral rhetoric regarding this issue differs on the basis of a publication's perceived ideological lean. To address the question, we built a corpus from a diverse group of online news media that were rated for their perceived ideological lean. Using Latent Semantic Analysis we calculated the average loading for the five moral domains identified in Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory (Haidt & Joseph, 2004) on the terms "climate change" and "global warming." We found that there were higher moral loadings overall for "climate change" with a greater difference seen among the more progressive media.

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