Wildly differing headlines from Durban in major global news outlets — not that any of them was necessarily “wrong” given the context of the story being reported — might help explain public confusion.

Contrasting headlines from major news organizations worldwide may provide just a hint of why the public so often appears confused when it comes to matters related to climate change.

As publisher of nonprofit websites dailyclimate.org and ehn.org closely tracking media coverage of climate change and environmental health issues, Peter Dykstra has a unique vantage point from which to view the media goings-on. Filling in as Editor in early December, he was struck by the contrasting headline approaches on a series of stories addressing the recent international meeting in Durban, South Africa. He says the headlines were all posted between 9 a.m. eastern time on December 8 and the same time the next day.

It’s not out of the question that each of the headlines, in their own ways, was accurate and reflective of the story as reported, mind you. That only makes the understanding-vs.-confusion challenge all the greater. Take a look:

  • “Support Grows for Durban Climate Deal” (Reuters)
  • “Global Climate Pact With Teeth Seen as Unlikely” (AP)
  • “Climate Talks See Some Progress as Clock Ticks” (Agence France Press)
  • “Is the US Dragging Its Feet On a Climate Deal?” (Reuters)
  • “UN Climate Talks On Edge Heading Into Final Hours” (AP)
  • “Biggest Polluters Hold Up Deal at UN Global Warming Talks” (Bloomberg)
  • “Climate Caucus Winds Down Without New Treaty” (USA Today)
  • “Major Climate Change Deal Within Reach at UN Summit” (Irish Independent)
  • “UN Climate Talks ‘Lacking Urgency'” (BBC)
  • “Climate Talks Mean Life or Death for Island States” (Reuters)



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