Climate Change Communication Research: Trends and Implications
Climate change has been identified as the biggest environmental issue of this century. Changes in climatic conditions are seriously affecting the social and economic survival of nations of Africa, and especially Nigeria, a country with reduced capacity and policy framework for climate change management. The primary role of communication researchers is to conduct research in communication and by extension, analyse research trends. Therefore, the focus of this paper was to document trends in climate change communication research conducted among farmers, with a specific focus on the themes that have dominated current studies, major research methods in use, major theories that are applied, sampling techniques that are frequently used, media of communication and methods of data analysis that are mostly used in these studies. Content analysis was adopted for gathering data from 67 national and international journal articles in the areas communication, climate change and agriculture. Data analysis shows that research efforts on climate change mitigation, adaptation and sustainable agricultural practices among farmers are few; no meta-analysis of studies on climate change communication has been conducted. Most of the studies rely on non-probability sampling techniques and first-level statistical analysis, while two out sixty-seven studies are theory-driven. These are serious methodological and theoretical weaknesses that reduce internal validity, affect the ease at which African researchers can contribute to on-going global, empirical and theory-guided conversation in their areas of specialisation, and reduce the chance of generalising findings on the greater population. Also, quantitative methods of research featured prominently above qualitative methods. These trends also show that existing research approach, design and methods on climate change communication to farmers have been purely elitist and quantitative, which may be grossly inappropriate given the socio-cultural, economic and demographic variables of most audiences in the continent. Therefore, further studies should consider these trends and their implications as a way of bridging the gaps in climate change communication research in Nigeria.
Keywords: Climate change, Communication, Research, Media, and Farmers