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, 10 (9), e0138996

Talking About Climate Change and Global Warming


Talking About Climate Change and Global Warming

Maurice Lineman et al. PLoS One.


The increasing prevalence of social networks provides researchers greater opportunities to evaluate and assess changes in public opinion and public sentiment towards issues of social consequence. Using trend and sentiment analysis is one method whereby researchers can identify changes in public perception that can be used to enhance the development of a social consciousness towards a specific public interest. The following study assessed Relative search volume (RSV) patterns for global warming (GW) and Climate change (CC) to determine public knowledge and awareness of these terms. In conjunction with this, the researchers looked at the sentiment connected to these terms in social media networks. It was found that there was a relationship between the awareness of the information and the amount of publicity generated around the terminology. Furthermore, the primary driver for the increase in awareness was an increase in publicity in either a positive or a negative light. Sentiment analysis further confirmed that the primary emotive connections to the words were derived from the original context in which the word was framed. Thus having awareness or knowledge of a topic is strongly related to its public exposure in the media, and the emotional context of this relationship is dependent on the context in which the relationship was originally established. This has value in fields like conservation, law enforcement, or other fields where the practice can and often does have two very strong emotive responses based on the context of the problems being examined.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Change in relative search volume (RSV) for “global warming” and “climate change” as search terms (2007–2013); dash line represents the mean for the RSV for each period.
Fig 2
Fig 2. Distribution of positive, neutral, and negative sentiments in tweets about global warming and climate change.

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Grant support

This study was financially supported by the 2015 Post-Doc Development Program of Pusan National University.