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Who is telling the story of climate change with maps? The surprising cartographic silence of the far right

Authors: Carolyn Fish*, University of Oregon
Topics: Cartography, Political Geography, Communication
Keywords: alt-right, far right, maps, climate change, disinformation, fake news, post-truth
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

There is no doubt that climate change is political, and because of this there are many actors in the telling of the climate change story. In the United States, climate change science has been used as a wedge between liberal and conservative politics. With the left being in support of climate science and actions to clean up the atmosphere, while the right vehemently denies the science of climate change or even presents it as a potential positive for the US economy. And while map making and design continue to be more accessible to a wider range of individuals through democratization of mapping using often free or low-cost, open-source, GUI or code-light and online tools, the actors in the telling of the climate change story with maps are few. Intriguingly, despite the low cost in creating maps, their undeniable power in both communication and persuasion, and the statement from White House aides that “the President like maps” the right has not used this medium in their investment into climate change disinformation campaigns. Through three case studies, this talk explores how the far right has failed to create or even alter maps towards their goal except in a very small number of cases. The results of this talk offer more questions than answers: does investigating who is creating these maps hurt or advance the science of climate change? Are maps truly powerful enough to change the discourse on climate change? What happens if maps are used to intentionally harm the planet?

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