Mapping the climate sceptical blogosphere

Produced as part of the Developing climate science and economics CCCEP research programme theme


While mainstream scientific knowledge production has been extensively examined in the academic literature, comparatively little is known about alternative networks of scientific knowledge production.

Online sources such as blogs are an especially under-investigated site of knowledge contestation. Using degree centrality and node betweenness tests from social network analysis, and thematic content analysis of individual posts, this research identifies and critically examines the climate sceptical blogosphere and investigates whether a focus on particular themes contributes to the positioning of the most central blogs.

A network of 171 individual blogs is identified, with three blogs in particular found to be the most central: Climate Audit, JoNova and Watts Up With That. These blogs predominantly focus on the scientific element of the climate debate, providing either a direct scientifically-based challenge to mainstream climate science, or a critique of the conduct of the climate science system, and appear to be less preoccupied with other types of scepticism that are prevalent in the wider public debate such as ideologically or values-motivated scepticism.

It is possible that these central blogs in particular are not only acting as translators between scientific research and lay audiences, but, in their reinterpretation of existing climate science knowledge claims, are filling a void by opening up climate science to those who may have been previously unengaged by the mainstream knowledge process and, importantly, acting themselves as public sites of alternative expertise for a climate sceptical audience.

Amelia Sharman