Climate Change, Ocean Acidification and the Nitrogen Cycle. A Corpus-based Discourse Analysis of the concept of Anthropocene in the press

Angela Zottola1 & Claudio de Majo2

1University of Nottingham  2Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (Ludwig-Maximil

The term Anthropocene first appeared in the early 2000s when scientist Paul Crutzen attempted to define the effects of human societies on the environment (Steffen et al. 2011). Since then, it has become an increasingly widespread, but also controversial, word in the scientific community. As environmental discourses increasingly permeate our lives, it has trespassed the borders of scholarly traditions, becoming acknowledged in popular culture (Autin & Holbrook 2012).

Bearing in mind the pivotal role the press has in the popularization, dissemination and consequent understanding of given topics, this contribution aims at investigating the representation of the notion of Anthropocene provided by the press in the USA, UK, India and Australia, highlighting different stances and ideas related to this concept.

In the framework of the Environmental Humanities (Trischler 2016, 2013; Steffen et al. 2007) and Corpus-based Discourse Analysis (Baker et al. 2008; Baker, Gabrielatos & McEnery 2013) this work analyses three corpora of newspaper articles collected from the three countries starting from 2002 - year in which this term was first employed in a scientific paper (Zalasiewicz et al. 2008), to the present day, critically investigating the way the press' representation influences our understanding of Anthropocene.

The analysis shows that climate change, ocean acidification and the nitrogen cycle are among the most common human-induced natural phenomena the term Anthropocene is associated with, and that the account of the consequences of the Anthropocene mostly rely on emotional discourses, rather than on scientifically grounded evidence.


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Week 8 2018/2019

Thursday 29th November 2018