Media and Climate Migration: Transnational and Local Reporting on Vulnerable Island Communities

  • Anna RoosvallEmail author
  • Matthew Tegelberg
  • Florencia Enghel


Climate-induced migration is a global challenge that affects specific local communities unevenly. This chapter addresses it as an issue of climate justice via three cases concerning U.S. islands: Sarichef Island in Alaska, Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana and Puerto Rico. The cases were selected for their similarities and differences concerning poverty, indigenous populations and rights, and political representation. These aspects correspond to three dimensions of injustice: economic, cultural and political. By applying multimodal critical discourse analysis to a small sample of newspaper articles for each case, the chapter explores how climate migration is understood in local and transnational media, and if and how issues of justice appear in selected news coverage. Findings indicate that transnational journalism tends to focus on economic injustice and scalar transcendence (local–global scales), while local journalism uniquely integrates scales as well as justice dimensions.

News Articles Analysed

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  2. Baurick, T. (2017, December 20). Here’s where residents of sinking Isle de Jean Charles will relocate. Retrieved from
  3. Delgado, J. A. (2018, September 29). El estimado de la emigración de boricuas después de María es de 160,000 (Puerto Rican migration after María estimated at 160,000). El Nuevo Dia. Retrieved from
  4. Demer, L. (2016, August 19). Shishmaref votes to relocate from eroding barrier island to mainland. Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved from
  5. Holpuch, A. (2016, August 18). Alaskan village threatened by rising sea levels votes for costly relocation. The Guardian. Retrieved from
  6. Hughes, Z. (2018, March 2). In doomed Alaska town, hunters turn to drones and caribou as sea ice melts. The Guardian. Retrieved from
  7. Levy, A./AP/Getty Images. (2017, May 27). Facing climate change on the Louisiana bayous—In pictures. The Guardian. Retrieved from
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  9. Luscombe, R. (2018, August 9). Exiled in Florida: The Puerto Ricans struggling to build a new life off island. Retrieved from
  10. Mercado, D. C. (2018, September 19). María transformó la Florida central (María transformed central Florida). Metro. Retrieved from
  11. Roberts, F. A. (2018, December 21). State chooses site near Thibodaux to relocate Isle de Jean Charles climate refugees. The Advocate. Retrieved from
  12. Sanolli, L. (2016, March 15). Louisiana’s vanishing island: The climate “refugees” resettling for $52m. The Guardian. Retrieved from
  13. Schleifstein, M. (2018, March 21). State is buying Isle de Jean Charles relocation site for $11.7 million. Retrieved from
  14. Thomas, M. (2016, July 22). Shishmaref’s Esau Sinnok recognized by White House as champion of change. The Nome Nugget. Retrieved from


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Roosvall
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew Tegelberg
    • 2
  • Florencia Enghel
    • 3
  1. 1.Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.York UniversityTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Malmö UniversityMalmoSweden

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