SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online


CARNEIRO, Celso Dal Ré  and  TONIOLO, João Cláudio. A Terra 'quente' na imprensa: confiabilidade de notícias sobre aquecimento global. Hist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos [online]. 2012, vol.19, n.2, pp.369-390. ISSN 0104-5970.


Reliability of news reports on 'global warming'



Global warming appears to be an incontestable truth. The suggestion is that the world's scientists have reached a consensus on the phenomenon. Most of Brazil's mainstream communications networks endorse this position. However researchers from Unicamp reveal that the issue is not as simply as it seems. Celso Dal Ré Carneiro and João Cláudio Toniolo, authors of the study, show that the science world is not as agreed about so-called 'global warming' as the media wishes to portray. Moreover they show that the news channels of three large communications outlets in Brazil are unreliable in terms of their reporting of the issue.

The three communications outlets studied are the UOL and web portals and the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo. In the investigation, which collected a sample of news items over a one year period from these media outlets, discovered that almost no attention is given to sources that contest or contradict so-called anthropogenic 'global warming,' although many such sources exist. The main source of scientific reference for these media outlets is the UN (United Nations) in its various instances, especially the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change).

The authors also highlight the contestations made by scientists worldwide concerning the results presented by the IPCC and later embraced by the media. These scientists include those who question predictions of catastrophes and those who deny the existence of the phenomenon, providing evidence disproving its existence. This by itself belies the idea presented by the IPCC that the world's scientists have reached a consensus concerning the alleged phenomenon.

Practically none of these divergences in relation to the IPCC's findings were reported by the media channels analyzed in the study. Less than 2% of the news items deal with positions contradicting those of the IPCC. Faced by this fact, the authors conclude that their reporting has been highly partial and has failed to take into account the full range of scientific voices studying the theme, something of primary importance to the exercise of journalism. The authors also list some scientific works that contradict the IPCC's positions and that contain proofs that contradict the thesis that global warming exists and its cause is human.

The article "The 'Hot' Earth in the media: the reliability of news reports on global warming" is published in the journal História, Ciências Saúde – Manguinhos, v.19, n.2, April-June 2012. The research was funded by CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development).



Celso Dal Ré Carneiro

João Cláudio Toniolo
+55 (19) 3788-4568
Campinas State University (Unicamp)