How do Natural Disasters Impact the Climate Change and Global Warming Discourse on Twitter? A Study of the 2021 Texas Winter Freeze, and the 2021 California Dixie Fires

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2023-12-05

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Abstract

Media coverage, specifically on social media, is the primary way many stakeholders come across information on climate change, global warming, and natural disasters. This study examines how the occurrence of natural disasters impacts this discourse on Twitter in two American states; California and Texas, with a focus on data from the 2021 Texas winter freeze, and the 2021 California Dixie wildfires to include a republican and a democratic state, as well as a heat-intense and cold-intense natural disaster. The data is scraped from Twitter through the Social Network Scraping algorithm, snscrape. The results indicate that climate change and global warming are more popular discourses in California, as opposed to Texas. Additionally, the discourse around climate change is more sensitive to natural disasters than the global warming discourse. However, the SiEBERT sentiment analysis highlights that the emotional intensity of tweets mentioning global warming is more variable than that of climate change tweets. The Dixie forest fires in California appear as a significant breakpoint in both California datasets along with the Texas climate change dataset but are not present in the global warming data for Texas. Conversely, the Texas winter freeze appears as a significant breakpoint in all datasets, including those from California. This suggests the interconnectivity of the climate dialogue on Twitter, with natural disasters in other states substantially impacting the discourse, regardless of the state's politics.

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Keywords

Environmental and behavioral economics, Climate change, Global warming, Natural disasters, Twitter, California, Texas

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