By Romeo St-Martin
Canadian Nuclear Association
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Affiliate Associate Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University.
He is a Senior Editor at Oxford University Press’ Research Encyclopedia Climate Science and “The Age of Us” columnist at The Conversation.
Nisbet studies the role of communication, media, and public opinion in debates over science, the environment, and technology. The author of more than 70 peer-reviewed studies, scholarly book chapters, and reports, at Northeastern University he teaches courses in Environmental and Risk Communication and Health Communication. Nisbet holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Communication from Cornell University and a BA in Government from Dartmouth College.
Nisbet has recently focused on shattering some of the myths about the challenges facing climate change advocates.
“One of the things that remain one of the common explanations of why we have inaction on climate change is that the mainstream media continues to engage in false balance about the fundamentals of climate science,” he explains. “In part I think this explanation is no longer true.
“What we know from research over time is that false balance remained a problem in the early 2000s and the late 1990s.” He says false balance disappeared in the mainstream media by 2007.
But false balance remains in outlets in U.S. political talk radio, Fox News and the conservative blogosphere, but people who use those sources of media are already have doubts about climate change and this serves as just a reinforcing factor.
He also questions the myth that environmental groups are being outspent by big business. Nisbet’s research found that in 2009 environmental groups brought in $1.7 billion in revenues with $390 million spent on climate and energy advocacy, while conservative think tanks and groups brought in $900 million in revenues and spent $240 million on climate and energy advocacy.
“To say that environmental groups are massively underfunded or they face a spending disadvantage against their long standing opponents in conservative think tanks, industry associations and advocacy groups is a false argument.”
Dr. Nisbet is among the featured speakers at CNA2015.