Geoengineering, news media and metaphors: Framing the controversial

Matti Luokkanen, Suvi Huttunen, Mikael Hildén

We analyze how metaphors are used in presenting and debating novel technologies that could influence the climate and thereby also future climate change policies. We show that metaphors strengthen a policy-related storyline, while metaphors are rarer in purely descriptive accounts. The choice of metaphor frames the technologies. War metaphors are used equally in arguments that are for, against and neutral with respect to the further development of geoengineering, but differences arise in the use of metaphors related to controllability, health and mechanisms. Controllability metaphors are often used in justifying further research and development of good governance practices, whereas health metaphors tend to be used against the very idea of geoengineering by portraying technological interventions in the climate as an emblematic case of an unacceptable development. These findings suggest that metaphors are early indications of restrictions in the interpretative flexibility that influences future governance of geoengineering and geoengineering research.

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