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a corpus-based discourse analysis of global warming in.doc

    A Corpus-based Discourse Analysis of Global Warming in

    English, American and Chinese Newspapers

    Fang Wang

    English Department

    University of Birmingham


     This paper aims at investigating the meanings of global warming in three discourses represented by three prestige newspapers: the Guardian, the Washington Post and the People’s

    Daily. To suit this, a diachronic corpus which includes the articles in which global warming

    occurs at least once in these newspapers during the last 20 years is built and this corpus is further divided into different time periods based on frequency explosions of the articles concerned. Thus, comparisons of the meaning constructions of global warming both between three newspapers and between different time periods are displayed. It is found that in the Guardian discourse, global

    warming is represented as an accepted fact, while the Washington Post discourse remains

    sceptical. People’s Daily also constructs global warming as an irrefutable fact, and it highlights China‟s contribution to this problem. This paper argues that corpus plays a central role in

    discovering meanings of discourse objects.

    Key words: corpus linguistics, discourse, global warming

1. Introduction

     People‟s interest in global warming has grown over the last 20 years. In 1984, the lexical item global warming first appeared in the Guardian newspaper, and there were only 2 articles in

    which this lexical item occurred. In 2008, the number of such articles reached 615. This dramatic change also exists in the newspapers of Washington Post, indicating that global warming is

    progressively becoming a focus of people‟s attention. Furthermore, what global warming means has been discussed in different ways, and these discussions are always entangled with ideological standpoints. According to Teubert (2005: 1-13), we can look for meaning of a lexical item only in the discourse which is constructed by all that has been said about this item, and we have to understand it as the product of negotiations between members of a discourse community. The discourse, in this sense, should be defined by a researcher and can be represented by a corpus.

     This article, therefore, aims at investigating the meaning of global warming represented in three different discourses read by educated middle class of the British, American and Chinese societies through the corpus-based analysis of three prestige newspapers: the Guardian, the

    Washington Post and the People’s Daily. Thus, in this research, I build a global warming corpus

    which consists of three subcorpora containing the articles in which global warming occurs at least once in these newspapers during the last 20 years. Furthermore, I have divided up my data into different time periods, in accordance with frequency explosions of such articles concerned, so that I can demonstrate how the construction of the meaning of global warming changes from one specific time period to another. In this sense, my study will focus on both a comparative-synchronic axis (simultaneous depictions of global warming in different newspapers) and a historical-diachronic axis (temporal sequences and evolutions).


     The methodology I adopt here is collocation, which is the central concept in corpus linguistics. As Firth (1935: 37) points out: “The complete meaning of a word is always contextual, and no study of meaning apart from a complete context can be taken seriously.” I here look at the significant collocates of global warming in three subcorpora during different time periods; Then, I choose top two common ones for all the subcorpora. Through further detail concordance analyses, the meanings of global warming in three subcorpora are displayed. The result of this analysis shows that there are striking differences between the meanings of global warming represented in three subcorpora. In such a way, my research shows how corpus linguistics detects the meaning of a discourse object by comparing discourses to each other, and the result of my linguistic analysis of global warming will form a sound basis for more ideology-related studies. 2. Applying corpus linguistics to a study of global warming

     The research value of global warming and climate change has been widely observed in the last two decades. Carvalho (2007: 223-243) looks at the representations of climate change in three British “quality press”: the Guardian, the Independent and the Times. He argues that in the

    discursive (re)construction of scientific claims about climate change, “ideology works as a powerful selection device in deciding what is scientific news, i. e. what the relevant „facts‟ are,

    and who are the authorized „agents of definition‟ of science matters.” (Carvalho 2007: 223) The implication of his research is that through representations of scientific knowledge in the media, one can “evaluate political program and assess the responsibility of both government and the public in addressing climate change”. (Carvalho 2007: 223). Hamilton (2007: 1-15) examines

    two opposing discourses in America concerning global warming and climate change the

    pro-Kyoto discourse and Bush discourse. After highlighting the differences between the two positions, he proposes a policy prescription, the “Greenhouse Network”. This proposal addresses the roles and motivations of the three main actors of environmental governance: the state, the market and the community. It is expected to achieve “collaboration and cooperation among all affected stakeholders and incentive based methods of policy implementation” through the

    Greenhouse Network. This is also addressed as the “third epoch” of environmental governance. Boykoff (2004: 125-136) demonstrates that US prestige-press coverage of global warming has contributed to a divergence of popular discourse from scientific discourse. Thus, Boykoff concluded that “the prestige-press‟s adherence to balance actually lead to biased coverage of both anthropogenic contribution to global warming and resultant action.” (Boykoff 2004: 125). Carvalho (2005: 1457-1469) develops the “circuit of culture” model in the study of climate

    change risk perception. He argues that the “producers and consumers of media texts are jointly engaged in dynamic, meaning-making activities that are context-specific and that change over time”. (Carvalho, 2005: 1457). After an empirical study based on three distinct circuits of climate change, the article concludes that there is evidence of social learning as actors build on their experiences in relation to climate change science and policy making. From these analyses, it can be seen that global warming and climate change are most of the time studied along the lines of ideology and culture: it is either claimed that ideology plays a decisive role in representing the scientific knowledge of global warming, or that journalistic norm leads to biased coverage of global warming. Both confirm that global warming is not represented objectively. Furthermore, some of these ideology-related researches seem to contradict each other: For example, Boykoff (2004: 125-136) claims that popular discourse (media-shaping discourse) is divergent from scientific discourse. Facing such dilemmas and contradictions in global warming research, I choose the perspective of corpus linguistics, which sets its target not as unpacking the ideological standpoints by picking examples, but as analyzing real language data, i.e. the corpus in its entirety.

     According to Biber et al (1998: 28), words should be seen not as lexicon or dictionary

    entries, but as text segments whose elements exhibit an inherent semantic cohesion which can be


made visible through quantitative analysis of the corpus. Here, “words” also include lexical

    items, multiple word units and so on, and it is the basic concept in corpus linguistics to develop the theory of meaning. In the lexical item global warming, both global and warming exhibit such

    “inherent semantic cohesion”, and the meaning of each is not equivalent to the meaning of the whole item. In this sense, global warming is a lexical item rather than a simple collocation.

    Teubert (2001: 125-154) points out that the meaning of a lexical item is what ever has been said about this item in one discourse, and therefore it is co-referential with the knowledge we have about the discourse object for which the lexical item stands. Thus, what we know about global warming in the Guardian discourse, for example, is contained in all the quotations in which global warming has been talked about in the Guardian corpus. In this sense, what we know (our

    knowledge) about global warming is identical with all the contexts in which the lexical item occurs. Therefore, there will be different meanings of one same lexical item when it is used in different discourses, and at different times. Corpus, as a principle collection of texts representing a sample of a particular variety or use of languages, contains the recorded authentic language of given discourse, and thus the corpus is the source from which the meaning of a lexical item can be found. The discourse as such is a construct, something that a researcher has to define. Here, I compile the corpus of global warming containing all the articles in which the lexical item global

    warming occurs at least once in three newspapers during the last 20 years, and thus my corpus represents three different discourses on global warming, and it is the very source from which the lexical meaning of global warming can be discovered.

    3. Critical Discourse Analysis and corpus linguistics

     Hunston (2002: 109) gives a brief explanation of the background of Critical Linguistics, which, to a great extent, can be regarded as the substitute of Critical Discourse Analysis, when she is talking about the corpus use in studying language and ideology:

     A growing concern in applied linguistics is the relation between language and ideology, in particular, the

    role of language in forming and transmitting assumptions about what the world is and should be like, and the

    role of language in maintaining (or challenging) existing power relations.

     (Hunston, 2002)

     Therefore, Critical Discourse Analysis is concerned with the mediation of ideology in language, and this relates to power structures in a society. According to Fairclough (1989: 67), the relationship between language and society is a two-way process, in which texts are “socially

    generated, and their nature is dependent on the social relations and struggles out of which they were generated as well as being socially transmitted and, in our society, unequally distributed”.

    Wodak (2001: 2) says more clearly that “language is also a medium of domination and social force. It serves to legitimize relations of organized power... in so far as the legitimating of power relations is not articulated, so the goal of Critical Linguistics is to uncover ideology deemed implicit in overt propositions”. Thus, Critical Discourse Analysis uses language analysis to discover this kind of inequalities, which, in turn, contributes to the critical analysis of the world. “Critical discourse analysts feel that it is indeed part of their professional role to investigate, reveal and clarify how power and discriminatory value are inscribed in and mediated through the linguistic system.” Coulthard (1996: XI).

     Obviously, Critical Discourse Analysis is fruitful in providing insights into the relationship between language and ideology. Recent researches in this field have touched upon issues such like gender differences, racism and so on. However, major problems unresolved within Critical Discourse Analysis, as Fowler (1996: 8) indicates, are that studies tend to be fragmentary, exemplificatory, and they usually take too much for granted in the way of method and of context. To tackle such problems, corpus linguistics insists on the thorough analysis of all the data found in a cogently defined corpus, and powerful corpus research tools are used to uncover linguistic


    patterns which can enable us to make sense of the ways that language is used in the construction of discourses (Baker, 2006: 1).

     A critique of Critical Discourse Analysis which could be seen as offering important contribution to the development of a more robust methodology is provided by Stubbs (1997: 107). He points out that few Critical Discourse Analysis studies compare the features they find in texts with norms in the language. This is crucial if reliable generalizations are to be made concerning the effects of different linguistic choices. Thus, Stubbs (ibid: 107, 111) suggests using a corpus for this purpose and stresses the necessity of using large body of data, so that reliable generalizations can be made about typical language use. Orpin (2005: 38) notifies that the qualitative methods of Critical Discourse Analysis are obviously at odds with the quantitative methodology of corpus linguistics, which is best suited to describing the collocational and syntactic patterns of a given lexical item. Thus, my research, through looking into the articles which include the lexical item global warming in three newspapers and describing the

    collocational and syntactic patterns of it, finally discovers how meanings are constructed differently in three different discourses.

    4. Corpora and data selection

     To collect the articles of global warming in the Guardian and the Washington Post, the tool

    I am using here is Lexis-Nexis. However, as the Chinese version of Peoples Daily newspaper is

    全球变暖 (global not included in Lexis-Nexis, I have to extract all the articles in which

    warming) occurs from the purchased CD-ROM in China which includes all the articles ever published in the People’s Daily.

    The following graph shows the frequency distribution of articles in which global warming occurred at least once in three newspapers:









     Diagram 1. Frequency distribution of articles in which global warming occurred at least once in the Guardian, the

    Washington Post, and the People’s Daily.

     From this graph, it can be seen that there are more articles in which global warming occurs in the Guardian than the other two, especially People’s Daily, which does not include significant

    amount of such articles until 2007. However, the Guardian and the Washington Post, despite of

    overall difference between the numbers of global warming articles, seem to have similar tendencies of increase of such article numbers. That is, from 1984 to 1987, there are very few articles (4 in the Guardian, 12 in the Washington Post) in which global warming occurs. Then in

    1988, the number reaches 34 in both newspapers, which can be regarded as the first frequency explosion. This tendency of increase continues in 1989 and 1990. After that, there is a slight fall


    in the frequencies from 1991 to 1996, and the average number of articles remains around 110. In 1998, again, the number reaches 243 in the Guardian, and 104 in the Washington Post, which

    forms the second frequency explosion. From then on, the frequency tends to increase all the way along. People’s Daily, on the other hand, only has one significant frequency explosion in 2007. Based on these frequency explosions, I divided the subcorpora of the Guardian and the

    Washington Post into three time periods, and the subcorpora of People’s Daily into two time

    periods. Thus, I got 8 subcorpora as shown in the following table:

     The Guardian The Washington Post The Peoples Daily

    Before 1987 G1 W1 P1

    ;1986-2006 1988-1996 G2 W2

    P2;2007-2008 1997-2006 G3 W3

Table 1. 8 subcorpora of global warming in different time periods

     Here, G stands for the Guardian corpus, W for the Washington Post corpus and P for the

    Peoples Daily corpus. 1, 2 and 3 stand for different time periods. G1 to P2 stand for eight subcorpora which are made up of all the global warming articles in three different newspapers at different time periods. These periods may coincide with some important changes and new knowledge about global warming that may have been accumulated.

     The next step of my research will be generating 8 collocation profiles of global warming

    based on these divisions and applying top collocates of global warming in all these 8 corpora to

    further concordance analyses.

    5. The concept of collocation profiles

     As clarified in the early part of this article, the meaning of a lexical item is everything that has been said about the discourse object the lexical item stands for. Therefore, in order to describe the contextual information, the concept of collocation is seen as crucial and has become accepted as a key research method in corpus linguistics. Furthermore, Stubbs (1996: 172) points out the importance of using collocation in discourse analysis “…words occur in characteristic collocations, which show the associations and connotations they have, and therefore the assumptions which they embody.” In this article, I look at a collocation as a combination of the node (here, global warming) and the collocate (a lexical item in the context +5/-5) that co-occur with the node in a statistically significant way, which is suggested by Sinclair et al. (2004: xix). In this way, by looking at different collocations from three discourses represented by three subcorpra, I can see what different associations and connotations are attached to global warming in different ways. This, in turn, will contribute to the understanding of global warming.

     My collocation profiles, based on the notion of collocation and on different time periods in a diachronic corpus, show sets of significant collocates of the node word in three subcorpora and in different time periods. Wordsmith tool (Scott, 2004) offers a function by extracting all the words that co-occur with the node word within certain span (here: +5/-5) and listing them according to the sum of their raw frequencies. In such a way, eight sets of significant collocates of global warming in three subcorpora are obtained and the top collocates of each subcorpus are shown respectively in appendix 1-8 (due to the limit number of global warming articles in the first

    period of three newspapers, there are different number of significant collocates being extracted. But what are presented in the appendices are all top ones). The collocates identified for further analyses in this paper are: cause and evidence. This is because only these two words appear in all

    the eight collocation files and they both rank within the top 50 ones. The following part will show the detail concordance analyses of these two words by applying them into concordance lines of each subcorpus and by setting global warming as their context word within left 5 and right 5



6. Analysis of significant collocates

    6.1. Analysis of cause

    To examine the meaning of global warming represented in three newspapers, as explained in

    section 2, I look at the concordance lines in which global warming and its significant collocates co-occur in three different time phases. In this section, the significant collocate cause and its

    concordance lines will be examined.

     Firstly, in the first part of the Guardian newspaper, there are 10 concordance lines in which cause and global warming co-occur significantly, and the following 5 lines are randomly chosen:

N Concordance

    1 'green-house effect'-global warming caused by the built-up of carbon dioxide gas e

    2 turn, could this global warming be caused by the 'greenhouse effect' itself and i

    3 the much heralded 'global warming' caused by the build-up of carbon dioxide emiss

    4 never say. The global warming will cause the oceans to expand making sea levels a

    5 e said the global warming would be caused by the raising of carbon dioxide levels

    Table 2. Concordance lines of cause and global warming in the first part of the Guardian subcorpus.

     It can be seen easily from above lines that the cause of global warming is represented

    similarly as (built-up, raising of) carbon dioxide or greenhouse effect. The result of global

    warming caused is sea levels rise. In this phase, the discussion on the cause of global warming remains on the level of technology, which makes the problem of global warming seeming to be

    remote to people‟s everyday life.

     In the second part of Guardian newspaper, concordance lines in which global warming and

    cause co-occur significantly reached 41, 29 of which carry the similar form to those in the first

    part, that is, the cause is constructed as carbon dioxide. The remaining 12 lines, on the other hand, reveal new meanings of the cause of global warming. The following shows the whole 12 lines:

N Concordance

    1 e that the acid rain and global warming caused by atmospheric pollution. At the

    2 CFCs as to increase global warming may cause as much heat to leave the earth and

    3 ious sciences showing global warming is caused by sunspots, and has proved this

    4 diehards ever question that C0 is a major cause of global warming. On the other hand

    5 e, any reduction in the emissions which cause global warming would be offset to

    6 rget to cut carbon dioxide emissions, a cause of global warming. Despite of this

    7 cut carbon dioxide emissions, the main cause of global warming and it has been

    8 The report warns: "Global warming could cause the spread of malaria and other tro

    9 not known whether the 1988 drought was caused by global warming, but it seems th

    10 lsely claimed global warming to be the cause of the October 1987 storm. It is al

    11 enntative proves how global warming will cause severe disruption in many Third world

    12 affected by global warming which could cause 'social instability' in developing

    Table 3. Concordance lines of cause and global warming in the second part of the Guardian subcorpus.

The above lines show the new developments of the meaning of the cause of global warming.

    The following list gives a summary:


    1) Atmospheric pollution

    2) CFC

    3) Sunspots


    1) Sea level rise

    2) Disruption in the third world countries


3) Spread of malaria and other tropical diseases

    4) 1988 drought (though still doubted)

     As the list shows, the first cause of global warming shown in these 12 lines, instead of carbon dioxide, is represented as atmospheric pollution (as line 1 shows), which is more directly

    linked to human being‟s activities. Unlike the texts in first time phase in the Guardian that

    explained this at a scientific and technologic level, the texts in second phase started to indicate and emphasize that the greenhouse effect is actually caused by human being‟s activity producing

    pollution and people‟s everyday life will be affected by the warming. In this way, the awareness

    of protecting environment is being raised.

     Except for that, there are two new causes of global warming shown in line 2 and 3: CFCs

    and sunspots. CFC is represented as another kind of green house gas, as shown in line 2. While the wider context of this line suggests that it was once thought to increase global warming, it

    actually cause heat to leave the earth rather than trapped it inside. This means that carbon

    dioxide emission is still being argued as the main cause of global warming. Sunspots appear as

    another cause of global warming as shown in 3. Similarly, this, in its wider context is also claimed as dubious science. This line is extracted from one article in the Guardian in the year

    of 1997. It says:

     “The Climate Change Coalition - set up by the oil, coal and motor industries - has spent ?10 million on

    television advertising in the past six weeks alone. It has financed dubious science showing that global

    warming is caused by sunspots, and has claimed that action to cut carbon dioxide emissions will cost jobs,

    increase taxes and make America less competitive.”

     From the Guardian (1997)

    Therefore, two new causes are both denied through different ways of argumentation. Furthermore, in line 4, people who question CO as the major cause of global warming are constructed as diehards, which also clearly shows that the cause of global warming is CO without question.

     At the same time, the starting of taking measures and actions to cut the carbon dioxide emissions begin to be emphasized, which can be seen from the words target, cut and so on in

    line 6, 7, and 8.

     The effects of global warming in the second phase turn out to be more various, threatening more drought, coastal flooding (caused by sea-level rise) and disease. Except for

    these, one of the most distinct effects of global warming represented in this phase is the disruption in the third world. The wider context of line12 also suggests that the global warming will cause social instability in the developing countries, being the conclusion of the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel of Climate Change). It is said that the developing countries don’t

    have enough money and technologies to build sea defence program, and will be the first victims

    of the coming of flooding caused by global warming. It is also said that in the next 30-50 years,

    global warming will turn between 60 million to 300 million people into environmental refugees,

    referring to people suffering from the effects of global warming in the third world countries moving to other especially European countries. Thus global warming is used as an evidence of arguing for the necessity of considering the refugee problem.

     In the third phase of the Guardian, there are 58 lines in which global warming and cause

    co-occur significantly. Most of them have represented the same cause as shown in phase 1 and 2, while the following 9 lines show the new construction of the meaning on the cause of global warming:

N Concordance

    1 is mustering to fight the greatest future cause of global warming: the growth of aviation


2 cade ago. America remains the leading cause of global warming pollution, and does

    3 sts say today. They say global warming caused by human activity is probably to blame

    4 is those industrialized countries that caused global warming that should be the first

    5 need a solution to the global warming caused by cars, but this isn't it. If the pr

    6 t is the simple claim that 'sunspots cause global warming'. It relies on the dub

    7 ly ascribed to a change in the weather caused by global warming. It could just have

    8 They report in Nature that global warming causes changes in rainfall patterns. Besides,

    9 have calculated that global warming will cause $ 5 trillion of damage, and would bring

    Table 4. Concordance lines of cause and global warming in the third part of the Guardian subcorpus.

     All these lines show that the causes of global warming become more complicated in the third phase, which can be summarized in the following list:

     1) The growth of aviation

     2) Cars

     3) Human activity

     4) America

     5) Industrialized countries

    Compared to the second phase, causes of global warming were represented as more various, such as growth of aviation, human-induced activities and so on. Another important change is

    that the main producers of carbon dioxide are identified in this phase and set as targets to blame. At the same time, the inactions of the producers represented here are emphasized. As line 2 shows, America remains the leading cause of global warming, and it does the least. Line 4 also

    indicates that global warming is caused by industrialized countries and they should be the first

    to do (which means that they have not done anything yet). All these will raise the awareness of preventing carbon dioxide productions and produce legitimacy of urging industrialized countries (mainly America) to take immediate actions. At the same time, sunspots cease to be

    regarded as a cause of global warming. One article in the Guardian in 1998 denies this reason

    by saying that the originator of this idea - the solar cycle theory” cannot explain the global

    warming itself, and the “reduction of carbon dioxide emission should be continued.” Line 7 and

    8 indicate that global warming will cause change in the weather or rainfall patterns. It is also

    predicted that the financing loss global warming brings about is tremendous, such like $5

    trillion of damage, as shown in line 9.

     From this analysis, it can be seen that the word cause is used in connection with negative

    words like disaster, flood, tropical disease and so on. Actually, the negative semantic prosody

    of the word cause has been widely observed, for instance by Hoey (2003), Stubbs (1995) and Hunston (2007). Semantic prosody is a term first used by Louw (1993) and means words have typical collocates that carry positive or negative meanings. Stubbs (1995) shows that more than 90% of the words collocating with the word cause were negative, e.g. accident, cancer,

    commotion, crisis and delay. Here, my analysis confirms his research.

     In short, the Guardian subcorpus in all three periods, consistently confirm the cause of global warming as carbon dioxide, and a series of human activities of producing carbon dioxide

    are blamed. The constructed main producers of emissions and their inactions towards cutting carbon dioxide are criticized. The effects global warming causes are represented as something disastrous, such as hurricane, tropical diseases, and extinction of species, or even the disruption

    in the third world.

     By contrast, cause occurs 12 times in the first period in the Washington Post subcorpus,

    but there are no concordance lines in which cause and global warming co-occur within five

    positions. Therefore, I represent all the lines which includes global warming (or the warming)

    and its cause(s):

N Concordance

    1 the situation said this expected warming should cause the sea level to rise at the pace


2 osphere by the burning of fossil fuels would cause a greater global warming than t

    3 r greater warming in the future, which could cause a rise in the ocean level that

    4 eating from "trace gases" in the atmosphere may cause the worst problems just 40 years

    5 ere is global industrialization. This is the cause of increased burning of fossil

    6 largely by the burning of fossil fuels, would cause the global warming known as the

     Table 5. Concordance lines of cause in the first part of the Washington Post subcorpus

     Similar to the Guardian subcorpus, the cause of global warming in the first phase in the Washington Post is also represented as carbon dioxide released into earth‟s atmosphere by the

    burning of fossil fuels (line 2, 5, 6). Line 4 indicates that there are more than one trace gases

    that are regarded as the sources of heating, and the wider context tells us the five gases are

    nitrous oxide, methane, ozone, and two forms of Freon. The effects that global warming causes are mostly represented in this phase as rise of sea level. In line 4, it is said that the heating ……

    may cause the worst problems. These worst problems are found as general catastrophes such as melt ice caps, flood coastal regions, and create deserts in the next century in the wider context

    of the article.

     From the second phase, interesting differences emerge in representing causes of global warming. There are total 30 lines in which cause and global warming co-occur significantly.

    Half of these lines carry similar forms as those in the Guardian, which state carbon dioxide as

    the main cause of global warming. While the other half concordance lines are all casting doubts

    on such established wisdom in the Guardian. These 15 lines are all shown as the following:


    1 al Edition Global warming Continues, but Cause Is Uncertain; Buildup of Pollutants

    2 onsensus Still Lacking on Global warming's Cause BYLINE: Boyce Rensberger, Washington

    3 greenhouse gas emissions rates will not cause global warming in the future. They

    4 if global warming continues -- would not cause major change. Antarctica would have

    6 emissions of greenhouse gases thought to cause global warming. But the government

    7 atmospheric carbon dioxide believed to cause global warming. Ironically, wood

    8 ze the production of gases believed to cause global warming. The United States

    9 sions of "greenhouse gases" believed to cause global warming, protect old-growth

    10 t and the "greenhouse gases" believed to cause global warming. In a nuclear plant,

    11 “greenhouse gases" that are believed to cause global warming by trapping heat in

    12 third of carbon dioxide -- the primary cause of global warming -- comes from th

    13 because carbon dioxide is the principal cause of global warming -- for the global

    14 emissions, tagged as the main probable cause of global warming. "We are disappo

    15. ientists say the single most significant cause of global warming/greenhouse effect

    Table 5 Concordance lines of cause and global warming in the second part of the Washington Post subcorpus

     Line 1 to 5 are either representing that the cause of global warming is uncertain, or that

    consensus still lacking on global warming’s cause, or denying that global warming will cause

    major changes such as variability in the climate. From line 6 to 11, the greenhouse gases are expressed as thought to be, believed to be the cause of global warming, and such phrases are always used to indicate opinions, rather than accepted facts. From line 12 to 15, there are modifiers like primary, principal, or main before the word cause, which suggests sort of

    possibilities that there may be some other causes of global warming except for carbon dioxide.

    Line 15 even addresses that the single most significant cause is increased. There are also

    several concordance lines in this period that imply the following idea: even if carbon dioxide is

    the cause of global warming, it will not be easy for America to take certain measures to cut it.

    As these implications can only be seen from a wider context, I here present more direct quotations: “America is more attached to fossil fuels, not like West Germany who can flick a

    switch and tie into French nuclear power.”; or “the global warming is scientifically invalid and cutting greenhouse gases will threaten the way of America‟s generating energy and running economy.” It is also indicated that the developing countries roles in global warming grow


    because “Developing countries, where populations are growing explosively and where personal income and use of technology are also increasing, will surpass industrialized countries in the next few decades as the major source of carbon dioxide and other gases that cause global warming.”

     All these analyses reflect that the Washington Post subcorpus is in many ways casting

    doubts on the idea of carbon dioxide being the cause of global warming. This is the main difference, compared to the Guardian subcorpus.

     In the third period, there are also 30 concordance lines in which cause and global

    warming co-occur within the word span set as 5. 12 of these lines still construct the cause of global warming as carbon dioxide emissions, and the remaining 18 lines expressed doubts on such a conclusion. While compared to the second period in the Guardian, different strategies

    are employed on casting doubts in the second period of Washington Post. The following 9 lines

    show new ways in questioning the cause of global warming as greenhouse effect:


    1 Dwindling; Global warming Called Likely Cause BYLINE: Curt Suplee, Washington

    2 uding the emissions that are the likely cause of global warming. Successful

    3 the belief that the emissions that may cause global warming stem largely

    4 pting a worldwide debate on whether the cause is global warming that will bring ab

    5 ns -- which scientists say are the main cause of global warming -- grew by

    6 ouse gas that scientists say is a major cause of global warming -- and account

    7 ing greenhouse gases that many experts say cause global warming. The Argentine preside

    8 io greenhouse gases that scientists say cause global warming. The harshest

    9 uncertainties remain on global warming's cause and effects. They urged caution in

    Table 6 Concordance lines of cause and global warming in the third part of the Washington Post subcorpus

     It can be seen here that the carbon dioxide is always represented as the likely cause of

    global warming, and global warming is the likely cause of dwindling ice (in line 1 and 2). The

    word may in line 3 also indicates the uncertainties about global warming‟s cause. Moreover,

    there is a debate on whether the cause is global warming that will bring environmental havoc in

    the future (line 4). Lines 5 to 8 reveal a unique pattern which shows a new strategy of challenging the existing idea about global warming:


     Here we can find if many scientists or experts give one opinion, there will be necessarily other scientists who obviously do not believe them. Lines 9 is more directly expressing the doubts by addressing numerous uncertainties remain about global warming’s cause and effects.

    In short, the Washington Post subcorpus is in many ways casting doubts on both the cause (carbon dioxide) and effects (catastrophic results) of global warming which are confirmed in the Guardian subcorpus.

     In the Peoples Daily corpus, in the first period, there are 10 lines in which 全球变暖

    (global warming) and 原因(cause) co-occur significantly. The following shows the whole set:


    1. 升和世界各地极端天气增多的一个重要原因。二氧化碳等温室气体排放量大

    2. 尽管说法不一!而造成全球变暖的主要原因之一!是工业革命以来人类无节

    3. 核心是营造可持续吸收被视为全球变暖原因的二氧化碳的“百年森林”。而

    4. 造成的!人类、而非自然是全球变暖的原因。这个观点已经被科学证实了许

    5. 者在会议上提出!引起气候系统变化的原因有多种!概括起来可分成自然的

    6. 气体的排放并非是导致全球变暖的真正原因!因此不必牺牲现有经济利益而

    7. 过度放牧、人口增加和人类活动频繁等原因!藏西北高寒牧区草场退化面积

    8. 层在过去两年内萎缩了(,,。其部分原因是当地气候发生了变化!但全球


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