Doyle J (2009) Seeing the Climate? The problematic status of visual evidence in climate change campaigning. In: S Dobrin & Morey S (Eds) Ecosee: Image, rhetoric, and nature (pp. 279–298). New York: State University of New York Press.
This chapter examines the extent to which photographic imaging can be used as a campaign tool for climate change. Drawing together theories of visual and photographic communication, with environmental communication and media studies, Doyle argues that the effectiveness of visual rhetoric within environmental campaigning has reached a crisis point in the context of climate change.
Through a detailed analysis of a series of photographic images used by Greenpeace to visualise changes to glacial levels over a period of decades, this chapter calls into question the effectiveness of ‘before and after’ photographs to capture the complexity of climate change. By highlighting the limitations of photography as a medium, this article examines the current crisis of representation that climate change poses for environmental campaigning and media culture, contributing to wider discussions of the representational conditions of environmental communication.
Doyle’s chapter forms part of a larger collection of essays that interrogate how supporters of the environmental movement manipulate and promote images of 'nature' to achieve support and sympathy, re-focusing discussions on visual, rather than verbal, rhetoric. It is now used as one of ‘the dominant critical perspectives that have contributed to the development of Environmental Communication as a field of study’ in the undergraduate syllabus, ‘Environmental Communication’ (New York University, USA).