Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 1367–1380 | Cite as

2014, The “year without a summer” in Italy: news media coverage and implications for the climate change debate

  • Federico Pasquaré MariottoEmail author
  • Corrado Venturini


In 2014, there was virtually no summer in northern and central-southern Italy. Storm after storm battered the peninsula, triggering floods and landslides from Veneto to Puglia. We studied the coverage of “the year without a summer” in Italy by analyzing the content of 171 news articles from two influential online newspapers. Our software-based analysis enabled us to observe that the two newspapers hardly ever mentioned climate change in their coverage of the weather anomaly that affected Italy in the summer of 2014. This type of coverage is in line with climate science, according to which there is no evidence of a climate change-related influence on summer precipitation patterns in Southern Europe—whereas such influence has been documented for northern Europe. We compared our results with a recent paper, which documented that the same online dailies chose to represent the particularly hot summer of 2012 in Italy as a direct consequence of climate change. We corroborated this comparison also on the basis of a preliminary analysis we performed on the media coverage of the exceptionally hot and arid summer of 2015 in Italy.


Climate change Summer 2014 Italy Weather Media TalTac2 Coverage 



We would like to acknowledge three anonymous reviewers for their challenging and helpful suggestions that significantly improved the quality of this work.


  1. Ahchong, K., & Dodds, R. (2012). Anthropogenic climate change coverage in two Canadian newspapers, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, from 1988 to 2007. Environmental Science & Policy, 15, 48–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderegg, W. R. L., Prall, J. W., Harold, J., & Schneider, S. H. (2010). Expert credibility in climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107, 12107–12109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Antilla, L. (2005). Climate of skepticism: US newspaper coverage of the science of climate change. Global Environmental Change, 15, 338–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Asplund, T., Hjerpe, M., & Wibeck, V. (2013). Framings and coverage of climate change in Swedish specialized farming magazines. Climatic Change, 117, 197–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Batta, H. E., Ashong, A. C., & Bashir, A. S. (2013). Press coverage of climate change issues in Nigeria and implications for public participation opportunities. Journal of Sustainable Development, 6, 56–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bolasco, S., & Canzonetti, A. (2005). Some insights into the evolution of 1990s’ standard Italian using text mining techniques and automatic categorisation. In M. Vichi, P. Monari, S. Mignani, & A. Montanari (Eds.), New developments in classification and data analysis. Studies in Classification, Data analysis, and Knowledge Organization (pp. 293–302). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bolasco, S., & Della Ratta-Rinaldi, F. (2004).Experiments on semantic categorization of texts: analysis of positive and negative dimension. In: G. Purnelle, C. Fairon, & Dister. A. (Eds.), Les pois des mots (pp. 202–210). Actes des 7 Journées Internationales d’analyse statistique des données textuelles. Louvain: Presse Internationale de Louvain.Google Scholar
  8. Bolasco, S., & Pavone, P. (2010). Automatic dictionary- and rule-based systems for extracting information from text. Studies in Classification, Data Analysis, and Knowledge Organization, 5, 189–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boucher, J., & Osgood, C. E. (1969). The Pollyanna hypothesis. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 8, 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Boykoff, M. T. (2007). From convergence to contention: United States mass media representations of anthropogenic climate change science. Transactions of the Institute for British Geography, 32, 477–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boykoff, M. T. (2008). Media and scientific communication: a case of climate change. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 305, 11–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Boykoff, M. T. (2010). Indian media representations of climate change in a threatened journalistic ecosystem. Climatic Change, 99, 17–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Boykoff, M. T., & Boykoff, J. M. (2004). Balance as bias: global warming and the US prestige press. Global Environmental Change, 14, 125–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Boykoff, M. T., & Boykoff, J. M. (2007). Climate change and journalistic norms: a case study of US mass-media coverage. Geoforum, 38, 1190–1204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Boykoff, M. T., & Goodman, M. K. (2009). Conspicuous redemption? Reflections on the promises and perils of the ‘celebritization’ of climate change. Geoforum, 40, 395–406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Boykoff, M. T., & Mansfield, M. (2008). ‘Ye Olde Hot Aire’: reporting on human contributions to climate change in the UK tabloid press. Environmental Research Letters, 3(2), 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Briffa, K. R., & Jones, P. D. (1816). The climate of Europe during the 1810s with special reference to 1816. In C. R. Harington (Ed.), The year without a summer. World climate in 1816 (pp. 122–135). Ottawa, ON: Canadian Museum of Nature.Google Scholar
  18. Candela, A. (2015). Storytelling e cambiamenti climatici nella rappresentazione mediatica delle previsioni meteorologiche [Storytelling and climate change in the media representation of weather forecasts]. Studi Culturali, 12(3), 1–18.Google Scholar
  19. Candela, A., & Pasquaré Mariotto, F. (2016). Italian news coverage of radiation in the early decades of the twentieth century: A qualitative and quantitative analysis. Public Understanding of Science, 25(2), 236–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Carvalho, A. (2007). Ideological cultures and media discourses on scientific knowledge: Re-reading news on climate change. Public Understanding of Science, 16, 223–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Carvalho, A., & Burgess, J. (2005). Cultural circuits of climate change in UK broadsheet newspapers, 1985–2003. Risk Analysis, 25, 1457–1469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S. A., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., et al. (2013). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters,. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024.Google Scholar
  23. Dispensa, J. M., & Brulle, R. J. (2003). Media’s social construction of environmental issues: focus on global warming—a comparative study. International Journal of Sociology and Social policy, 23, 74–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Doran, P., & Zimmerman, M. (2009). Examining the scientific consensus on climate change. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 90(3), 22–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Doulton, H., & Brown, K. (2009). Ten years to prevent catastrophe? Discourses of climate change and international development in the UK press. Global Environmental Change, 19, 191–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Entman, R. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a fractured paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43, 51–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Epson Meteo Centre (2014). Italia: tutti i dati di un’estate anomala [Italy: all the data about the anomalous summer]. Accessed May 12, 2015.
  28. Epson Meteo Centre (2015). Cronaca meteo: Luglio 2015 [Meteorological conditions in Italy in July 2015]. Accessed September 23, 2015.
  29. European Environmental Agency, EEA (2012). Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012, an indicator-based report. EEA Report No. 12/2012, Copenhagen, Denmark, 304 pp.Google Scholar
  30. Farbotko, C. (2005). Tuvalu and climate change: Constructions of environmental displacement in The Sydney Morning Herald. Geografiska Annaler: Series B. Human Geography, 87, 279–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ford, J., & King, D. (2015). Coverage and framing of climate change adaptation in the media: A review of influential North American newspapers during 1993–2013. Environmental Science & Policy, 48, 137–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Giuliano, L., & La Rocca, G. (2010). Validity and reliability of the automatic classification of texts according to the negative-positive criterion”. In S. Bolasco, I. Chiari, & L. Giuliano (Eds.), Statistical analysis of textual data, Sapienza University of Rome, Actes des 9èmes JADT, Rome 9–11 June (pp. 61–72). Milan: LED.Google Scholar
  33. Harington, C. D. (1992). The year without a summer: World climate in 1816. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Museum of Nature.Google Scholar
  34. Haylock, M. R., Hofstra, N., Klein Tank, A. M. G., Klok, E. J., Jones, P. D., & New, M. (2008). A European daily high-resolution gridded data set of surface temperature and precipitation for 1950–2006. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113(D20), D20119. doi: 10.1029/2008JD010201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Holt, D., & Barkemeyer, R. (2012). Media coverage of sustainable development issues-attention cycles or punctuated equilibrium? Sustainable Development, 20, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Inglisa, M. (2008). La rappresentazione dei cambiamenti climatici nei media italiani [The representation of climate change in the Italian media]. Milan: IBI.Google Scholar
  37. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007). Climate Change 2007: The physical science basis. In S. Solomon, D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K. B. Averyt, M. Tignor & H. L. Miller (Eds.), Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88009-1.Google Scholar
  38. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2012). Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. A special report of working groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, edited by C. B. Field et al., 52 pp., Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, U. K., and New York.Google Scholar
  39. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014). Climate change 2014: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. In: C. B. Field, V. R. Barros, D. J. Dokken, K. J. Mach, M. D. Mastrandrea, T. E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K. L. Ebi,Y. O. Estrada, R. C. Genova, B. Girma,E. S. Kissel, A. N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P. R. Mastrandrea, L. White (Eds.), Summary for policy makers. Contribution of working group II to the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge (pp. 1–32).Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Iyengar, S. (1991). Is Anyone Responsible? How Television Frames Political Issues. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jogesh, A. (2012). Handbook of Climate Change and India: Development, Politics and Governance. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Kirilenko, A. P., & Stepchenkova, S. O. (2012). Climate change discourse in mass media: application of computer-assisted content analysis. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 2, 178–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kuha, M. (2009). Uncertainty about causes and effects of global warming in US news coverage before and after Bali. Language and Ecology, 2, 1–18.Google Scholar
  44. Lamb, H. H. (1995). Climate, history and the modern world. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Liu, X. S., Lindquist, E., & Vedlitz, A. (2011). explaining media and congressional attention to global climate change, 1969–2005: An empirical test of agenda-setting theory. Political Research Quarterly, 64, 405–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Liu, X. S., Vedlitz, A., & Alston, A. (2008). Regional news portrayals of global warming and climate change. Environmental Science & Policy, 1, 379–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Lyytimäki, J. (2011). Mainstreaming climate policy: the role of media coverage in Finland. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 16, 649–661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mann, M. E., Gille, E., Bradley, R. S., Hughes, M. K., Overpeck, J. T., Keimig, F. T., & Gross, W. (2000). Global temperature patterns in past centuries: an interactive presentation. Earth Interactions, 4, 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. McCombs, M. (2004). Setting the agenda. The mass media and public opinion. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  50. NIMBUS, 2014. Accessed February 26, 2016.
  51. NASA Earth Observations (2014). Global temperature anomalies for July 2014. Accessed June 8, 2015.
  52. Oreskes, N. (2004). Beyond the ivory tower. The scientific consensus on climate change. Science, 306, 1686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Osgood, C. E., Suci, G. J., & Tannenbaum, H. P. (1957). The Measurement of Meaning. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  54. Pang, B., & Lee, L. (2008). Opinion Mining and Sentiment Analysis. Foundations and Trends in Information Retrieval, 2, 1–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pasquaré, F., & Oppizzi, P. (2012). How do the media affect public perception of climate change and geohazards? An Italian case study. Global and Planetary Change, 90, 152–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pasquaré, F., & Pozzetti, M. (2007). Geological hazards, disasters and the media: the Italian case study. Quaternary International, 173, 166–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Piervitali, E., Conte, M., & Colacino, M. (1997). Summer air temperature anomalies in Europe during the century 1811–1910. Il Nuovo Cimento, 20, 195–208.Google Scholar
  58. Rashid, S. A., Iqbal, M. J., & Hussain, M. A. (2012). Impact of north-south shift of azores high on summer precipitation over north west Europe. International Journal of Geosciences, 3, 992–999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Robock, A. (1994). Review of year without a summer? World climate in 1816. Climatic Change, 26, 105–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Russo, S., Dosio, A., Graversen, R. G., Sillmann, J., Carrao, H., Dunbar, M. B., et al. (2014). Magnitude of extreme heat waves in present climate and their projection in a warming world. Journal of Geophysical Research, 119, 12500–12512.Google Scholar
  61. Sampei, Y., & Aoyagi-Usui, M. (2009). Mass-media coverage, its influence on public awareness of climate-change issues, and implications for Japan’s national campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Global Environmental Change, 19, 203–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Schmidt, A., Ivanova, A., & Schaefer, M. S. (2013). Media attention for climate change around the world: a comparative analysis of newspaper coverage in 27 countries. Global Environmental Change, 23, 1233–1248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Screen, J. A. (2013). Influence of Arctic sea ice on European summer precipitation. Environmental Research Letters,. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/4/044015.Google Scholar
  64. Shanahan, J., & Good, J. (2000). Heat and hot air: influence of local temperature on journalists’ coverage of global warming. Public Understanding of Science, 3, 285–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Shehata, A., & Hopmann, D. N. (2012). Framing climate change: A study of US and Swedish press coverage of global warming. Journalism Studies, 13, 175–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sonnett, J. (2010). Climates of risk: A field analysis of global climate change in US media discourse, 1997–2004. Public Understanding of Science, 19, 698–716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Stothers, R. B. (1984). The great Tambora eruption in 1815 and its aftermath. Science, 224, 1191–1198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Takahashi, B., & Meisner, M. (2013). Climate change in Peruvian newspapers: The role of foreign voices in a context of vulnerability. Public Understanding of Science, 22, 427–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Taylor, N., & Nathan, S. (2002). How Science contributes to environmental reporting in British newspapers: A case study of the reporting of global warming and climate change. The Environmentalist, 22, 325–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Tol, R. (2014). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the literature: A re-analysis. Energy Policy, 73, 701–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Wallack, L., & Dorfman, L. (1996). Media advocacy: A strategy for advancing policy and promoting health. Health Education Quarterly, 23, 293–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Weart, S. R. (2003). The discovery of global warming. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Weingart, P., Engels, A., & Pansegrau, P. (2000). Risks of communication: discourses on climate change in science, politics, and the mass media. Public Understanding of Science, 9, 261–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Woods, R., Fernandez, A., & Coen, S. (2012). The use of religious metaphors by UK newspapers to describe and denigrate climate change. Public Understanding of Science, 21, 323–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Young, N., & Dugas, E. (2011). Representations of climate change in Canadian National Print Media: The Banalization of Global Warming. Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue canadienne de sociologie, 48, 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Federico Pasquaré Mariotto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Corrado Venturini
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Theoretical and Applied SciencesInsubria UniversityVareseItaly
  2. 2.Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental SciencesBologna UniversityBolognaItaly

Personalised recommendations