Visualising Climate Change

The research project ‘Visualising Climate Change’ was funded through an ESRC Future Leader Fellowship (2012-2015, extended to 2017). The project aimed to increase understanding of the representations and power of visual imagery for engaging people with climate change.

Every day, images evoking climate change are created and made meaningful in the public arena. But images are not neutral. Imagery which gains dominance promotes particular ways of knowing about climate change, whilst marginalising others. These insights are important, as particular ways of knowing about climate support (or inhibit) particular science-society-policy interactions. This research critically examined the visual representations of climate change in mass and new media; and explored how the power of visual images can be used to engage people with climate change.

This was an interdisciplinary, internationally-comparative and multi-phase project. Part A  used content and frame analyses to critically analyse a diverse international corpus of visual imagery, from both mass and new media sources (see e.g. O’Neill 2013, O’Neill et al. 2013, O’Neill et al. 2015, O’Neill 2019). Part B used photo-elicitation to explore how participant-created images can engage and empower people to imagine different climate futures, in the context of adaptation to sea-level rise (see O’Neill and Graham 2016). A video of the photo-elicitation project can be viewed below (credit to Tom Lowe at Polygraph Productions for help making my research more accessible, and to all the participants who were filmed).

The project made links to international research leaders in the social dimensions of climate change, through the project partner at the University of Melbourne and the project collaborators at the University of Colorado-Boulder and American University.

This project ran between 2012-2015 (extended to 2017 for maternity leaves). Please see the publications tab for the links to papers arising from this grant.

Visualising Climate Change from Tom Lowe on Vimeo