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Pace University New York Anthropogenic Global Warming Research Paper

For the research paper, you should pick one of the conspiracy theories and research both sides of the argument–for and against it being true–and conclude whether you think it’s true or not based on the evidence. So on the one hand you’ll be reading from sources that support the theory and you’ll have to find sources that disagree with that theory. But you ultimately decide who has the more convincing case.I picked up “global warming” case, some one has claim it is a conspiracy theory which the world has got warmer is not true. In this essay, research both side about it is true (facts/data) or not (other arguments)Thank you so much

Challenging Global Warming as a Social Problem: An Analysis of the Conservative
Movement’s Counter-Claims
Author(s): Aaron M. McCright and Riley E. Dunlap
Source: Social Problems, Vol. 47, No. 4 (Nov., 2000), pp. 499-522
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social
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Challenging Global Warming as a Social
Problem: An Analysis of the Conservative
Movement’s Counter-Claims
AARON M. McCRIGHT, Washington State University
RILEY E. DUNLAP, Washington State University
The sociological literature on global environmental change emphasizes the processes by which th
of global warming is socially constructed. However, the opposing efforts to construct the “non-problema
global warming advanced by the conservative movement are largely ignored. Utilizing recent work o
processes in the social movements literature and claims-making from the social problems literature,
analyzes the counter-claims promoted by the conservative movement between 1990 and 1997 as it m
challenge the legitimacy of global warming as a social problem. A thematic content analysis of publi
culated on the web sites of prominent conservative think tanks reveals three major counter-claims
movement criticized the evidentiary basis of global warming as weak, if not entirely wrong. Second
ment argued that global warming will have substantial benefits if it occurs. Third, the movem
that proposed action to ameliorate global warming would do more harm than good. In short, the c
movement asserted that, while the science of global warming appears to be growing more and more
the harmful effects of global warming policy are becoming increasingly certain. In order to better
the controversy over global warming, future research should pay attention to the influence of the c
movement by identifying the crucial roles of conservative foundations, conservative think tanks, and sy
“skeptic” scientists in undermining the growing scientific consensus over the reality ofglobal warming.
In the past decade, global climate change became a widely accepted social prob
referred to as global warming or the anthropogenic greenhouse effect, global climat
the discernible increase in mean global temperature resulting from the release of g
gases produced by human activities. Awareness of this global threat reinforced publ
about environmental problems and thereby provided environmental activists, scien
policy-makers with new momentum in their efforts to promote environmental pr
Not surprisingly, opponents of these efforts mobilized in recent years to mount inten
tion to calls for major international action to prevent global warming such as treatie
to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (Brown 1997; Gelbspan 1997). The purpose of t
is to examine this growing opposition, which has heretofore been relatively ignored
In particular, we will explore the role played by the American conservative mov
challenging the legitimacy of the climate change problem. It will be shown that cor
tions in the conservative movement mobilized in recent years as a countermovemen
the efforts of the environmental movement and its allies to establish the seriousnes
environmental problems. Specifically, we report the results of a content analysis o
We have benefited from comments and suggestions from Michael Allen, Robert Brulle, Greg Hooks,
Roberts, David A. Smith, the members of the Social Problem Seminar, and several anonymous reviewers. An e
sion of the paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Chic
August 1999. Direct correspondence to: Aaron M. McCright, Department of Sociology, Washington State
Pullman, WA 99164-4020. E-mail:
SOCIAL PROBLEMS, Vol. 47, No. 4, pages 499-522. ISSN: 0037-7791
? 2000 by Society for the Study of Social Problems, Inc. All rights reserved.
Send requests for permission to reprint to: Rights and Permissions, University of California Press,
Journals Division, 2000 Center St., Ste. 303, Berkeley, CA 94704-1223.
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tions concerning climate change distributed via the Internet sites o
tanks, organizations that have influenced policy-making in areas ran
taxation. This analysis examines the nature of the counter-claims
movement in its efforts to delegitimate the claim that global war
deserving governmental action. While there is a large body of literatur
in social movements and a rapidly growing body of literature on cou
as yet, very little work on the framing processes of countermoveme
two existing typologies of counter-rhetoric in an effort to demonstrat
the framing processes employed by countermovements.
The existing body of social scientific literature on global warming
a social constructionist approach (Dunlap and Catton 1994, p. 24; Ros
most particularly, that of a social problems orientation to claims-makin
studies, we turn to a brief theoretical discussion of the parallels a
social problems orientation and a social movements orientation, co
concepts of claims and frames. We argue that, in order to understan
troversy in the United States, it is necessary to supplement the social p
making with attention to framing processes and movement/counter
Legitimation of Global Warming as A Problem
In the early 1990s, social scientists began to study how social and
tated the construction of global warming as a legitimate social probl
action. In explaining the variation in public attention to the issue
early studies in the social sciences either utilized Downs’ (1972) issu
gartner and Bosk’s (1988) public arenas model. The more robust find
these studies include the following. First, media coverage of global w
to 1988 (Mazur and Lee 1993, p. 695; Miller, et al. 1990, p. 29), but
middle of 1989 and early 1990 (McComas and Shanahan 1999, p. 43; T
liams and Frey 1997, p. 289). Claims-makers were able to achieve th
tion to global warming for several reasons: (1) through its timely co
issues such as nuclear winter and ozone depletion (Mazur and Lee,
1997, p. 291); (2) because of the extreme drought during the summe
p. 709; Ungar 1992, pp. 491-492); and (3) because of James Hansen’s
mony in June 1988 attributing the abnormally hot weather plaguing o
ing (Mazur and Lee, p. 698; Miller, et al., p. 35; Trumbo 1995, p. 25).
Early news stories on global warming relied heavily upon scientis
however, economic and political specialists edged out scientific exp
sources in these news stories (Lichter and Lichter 1992, p. 3; Miller,
1996, p. 277; Wilkins 1993, p. 78). With this shift in sources, the ne
from stories about global warming science to stories about policy deb
and treaties (Lichter and Lichter, p. 2; Trumbo 1995, p. 26). At the
began to emerge with the growing concern over the economic costs
ascent of the Bush administration (Mazur and Lee 1993, p. 699; Willia
In general, support for the reality of global warming was higher in
ion-editorial articles, where the ideas of the few key scientists skeptic
ence flourished (Wilkins, p. 79).
As the proponents of global warming theory eventually lost med
tics” and politicians critical of the scientific evidence gained more visib
and Lichter 1992, p. 3; McComas and Shanahan 1999, p. 48; Wilkins
lence of the “dueling scientists scenario,” the tendency of most scien
cite scientists with opposing views, probably contributed to this shift
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Challenging Global Warming 501
warming. Many researchers assert that the rising skepticism also reflected the entry of political
sources, especially members of the Bush administration, into the media debate (Lichter and
Lichter, p. 3; McComas and Shanahan, p. 51; Nissani 1999, p. 36; Trumbo 1995, p. 26; Ungar
1992, p. 494). Media attention eventually began to decrease after 1990 to levels lower than
the peak coverage in 1989, but higher than the level prior to 1988 (Ungar, p. 493; Williams
and Frey 1997, p. 298), consistent with the latter stages of the public arenas model and the
issue-attention cycle.
We believe that this existing sociological research on global warming from a social problems orientation has produced an inadequate understanding of the global warming controversy. Since most of the studies noted above ended in the early 1990s, concluding that global
warming was completing the requisite stages of both the public arenas model and the issueattention cycle, they are unable to shed light on more recent developments. Also, while the
studies do track the claims regarding global warming via the media, they nevertheless fail to
systematically address the historical context of the social actors involved in the problem
definition process. Furthermore, the studies only occasionally acknowledge the existence of
counter-claims, while never really dealing with the content or sources of these counterclaims. This is symptomatic of the more general asymmetric focus on the social construction of
a condition’s problematicity at the expense of ignoring what Freudenburg (2000) calls the
social construction of its “non-problematicity.”1 In particular, Freudenburg argues that analyzing efforts to define issues as non-problematic provides insights into the use of power by dom-
inant interests (also see Schnaiberg 1994:39-42).
We think the dearth of work on the social construction of the non-problematicity of global
warming limits our sociological understanding of the role of power in struggles to place
global warming on the policy agenda. For instance, Ungar (1998) recently argued that the
substantial controversy over global warming is due to it not being as marketable as the more
successfully defined problem of ozone depletion, while the studies noted above claim global
warming merely ran its course as a social problem and now competes with more pressing
problems for attention. Unfortunately, these accounts fail to acknowledge the effects of the
powerful opposition that has arisen to challenge the legitimacy of global warming. Thus,
following Freudenburg (2000), we believe that an adequate account of a social problem’s
“career” should address efforts to construct its non-problematicity, as well as those to construct
its problematicity. To overcome the limitations of existing studies analyzing the construction
of global warming as a problem, we shift to a social movements orientation and examine the
framing activities of a countermovement that challenges the legitimacy of global warming’s
problem status.
Social Problems and Social Movements
In the past, some sociologists attempted to bridge the divide between the social prob
literature and social movements literature. Bash (1994, 1995) writes extensively on the d
ences between these two orientations. He argues that the sociology of continental Eu
adopted a social movements orientation able to accommodate both a macro- and micr
focus on social processes. He believes that historicity and broad contextual analysis are
gral to this orientation. On the other hand, Bash (1994, p. 257) sees the dominant thru
sociology in the United States as having defined its vital concerns as social problems
“appeared to crop up one by one and each, apprehended individually, begged for expedi
case-by-case resolution.” This results in a relatively ahistorical approach that leads to m
level situational analyses.
1. Freudenburg (2000, p. 106) uses the term problematicity to mean a condition’s status as a legitimate social p
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Regardless of these differences, several theorists have attempt
problems and social movements orientations. In the first major effo
atures, Mauss (1975) suggests that the claims-making approach o
best understood from a social movements perspective. Since claims
reflects the actions of social movement participants, social problem
varieties of social movements. Troyer (1989) also ponders the ne
distinct bodies of literature if both might actually be studying th
extensive overlap between social movement approaches and social
in the social problems literature, pointing out that both give theore
ing construction process and both focus on the interaction betwee
audiences (pp. 54-55). Troyer eventually erred on the side of cau
the final analysis, the idea that one approach encompasses and sub
mature and shortsighted” (p. 56).
While the concept of “claim” is central to recent work in the s
the concept of “frame” is central to recent work in the social mov
cept of claim is derived from Spector and Kitsuse’s (1977) classic
tionist approach to social problems, which became dominant in soc
concepts of claim and claims-making now are essential to social
Loseke 1999). The concept of frame is most extensively developed
concepts of frame and framing processes are now popular in soci
e.g., Benford and Snow 2000).4
On the surface, the concepts of claim and frame appear to be q
marily seen as discursive tools of social actors. Because of this, th
text and analyzed methodologically as rhetorical argumentation. A
day activities of social problem definers or social movement part
both commonly associated with perceived injustices and/or grievan
are often described as symbolic challenges to the dominant discou
two concepts may seem similar in some respects, there are, noneth
between them. In the spirit of Bash (1994, 1995), we believe that
differences can shed light on the divergence between a social pr
social movements perspective.5
First, claims are identified as specific products of social proble
conceptually integrated with the internal cycle of a social problem
row scope contributes to theoretical overemphasis on the ahistor
istics of each individually recognized social problem at the
examination of the larger historical and social environment in w
(Bash 1994). Obviously, social actors defining a condition as probl
2. In their work, Spector and Kitsuse (1977) write the following: “The activity
demands for change is the core of what we call social problems activities. Definitions
constructed by members of a society who attempt to call attention to situations t
mobilize the institutions to do something about them …. Claims-making is alway
made by one party to another that something be done about some putative conditio
has a right at least to be heard, if not to receive satisfaction” (p. 78).
3. In this work, Snow, et al. (1986) write the following: “The term “frame’ (an
Goffman (1974, p. 21) to denote ‘schemata of interpretation’ that enable individua
label’ occurrences within their life space and the world at large. By rendering events
function to organize experience and guide action, whether individual or collective”
4. In our discussion of frames, we concentrate solely on the most prominent intel
that of Snow and his colleagues. A reader desiring a more comprehensive summary
and Snow’s (2000) recent overview of the social movements literature on framing
5. Because each concept is embedded within a different theoretical orientation,
casual substitution of one for the other that seems to be occurring with greater freq
1994; Meyer and Staggenborg 1996).
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Challenging Global Warming 503
olution, are simultaneously constrained and enabled by existing structures within the larger
social environment. The theoretical legacy of the concept of frame allows for a more insightful
analysis of phenomena external to this original social movement or group of claims-makers.
In particular, it allows for a more complete examination of the historical and social context in
which movement activists mobilize. Williams’ (1998) discussion of frames in his examination
of the role of power in the social construction of environmental problems is a promising
example of how this concept helps transcend a narrow focus on social problem definers by
facilitating consideration of their external environment.
Second, the concept of claim seems to necessitate, or at least overemphasize, the agency
of individual actors. A quick perusal of the social problems literature suggests there is little
recognition, or at least scant analysis, of the constraints social problem definers face in claimsmaking (Loseke 1999). Indeed, claims are regularly construed as the direct product of a sole
entity-the claims-makers. On the other hand, the concept of frame lends itself to efforts that
take account of structure, while still assuming some level of agency on the part of social
actors. The work of Snow and colleagues perhaps best characterizes this theoretical consider ation of structure, as well as agency. Benford and Snow (2000) emphasize that frames are
developed, generated, and elaborated through interactive and contested framing processes
involving multiple stakeholders. Snow, et al.’s (1986) identification of the strategic frame
alignment processes of bridging, amplification, extension, and transformation points out how
movement activists are constrained and enabled by existing cultural frames. Furthermore,
Snow and Benford (1992, p. 142) argue that the master frames that transcend different movements are integral to the emergence and course of larger cycles of protest.
Finally, as it has been employed in the literature on the social construction of social problems, the concept of claim is quite closely tied to characterizations of the first, and sometimes
second, face of power (Lukes 1974). That is, with claims-making, the explicit emphasis is on
observable behaviors and the direct confrontation of competing interests. On the other hand,
the concept of framing invokes notions of the third face of power by specifying the ideological
processes of cultural naming. Again, Williams’ (1998) discussion of how frames of environmental problems often challenge the cultural stock of knowledge and, therefore, draw attention to the hegemonic activities of the powerful is a recent example of the potential theoretical
depth of the framing concept. Thus, the framing concept provides more leverage for under standing the underlying structures of power in which social problems discourse is embedded.
We are not suggesting that an emphasis on framing processes derived from the social
movements literature should replace the emphasis on claims-making activities derived from
social problems theory in the analysis of social problems. Rather, to the extent that frames
often contain claims and framing processes involve claims-making processes (Benford and
Snow 2000, pp. 119-120), we are arguing that attention to framing processes provides a necessary supplement to an emphasis on claims-making activities for enhancing our understanding of social problems. While future work should aim at synthesizing the conceptual strengths
of framing processes and claims-making activities, we offer a small step in this di…


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