In a previous study of twitter conversations about climate migration during the Conference of the Parties at Lima (in French here), I established that this topic doesn’t seem to gather a lot of interest on twitter, even from climate activists. From the 410 000 tweets mentioning the COP 20 Lima that I collected using the twitter analysis tool Visibrain Focus TM, only 5698 of them mentioned climate migration. Or, to be more accurate, they were the only ones to use a vocabulary related to climate and movement, climate and population, climate and island, climate and catastrophes, or climate and dwellings.
The analysis of all those tweets showed that only a little more than half of those 5698 tweets were actually mentioning climate migration, and that they were sent by a small group of activists involved in this subject. I was able to identify precisely this group by making a data visualisation of their mutual mentions on twitter using Gephi:
This analysis is an introduction of a much bigger study on the subject on climate migration that I’m doing with Emilie Chevalier, a phd working on the groups of people that are talking about climate migration, and, more precisely, where they come from, with a specific focus on inhabitants from « vulnerable insular territories ». It is also interesting to note that the UK Climate Change & Migration Coalition, while studying the media coverage on climate change and climate migration using data from Google News, discovered that medias are publishing more and more stories on climate migration, and less on climate change. But climate migration isn’t yet an important topic on twitter.
This study on twitter conversations will last until the end of the Conference of the Parties of Paris (or COP 21) in december 2015. In the meantime, I present here an analysis of the twitter “influencers” on climate migration from the 1st of January 2015 to the 31th October 2015, using Visibrain Focus TM to monitor various keyworks combinations linked to this issue in English and in French – more than 90 % of those tweets are in english.
The first semester of 2015: climate migration, a specific interest of climate activists and specialists?
There were on average 150 000 tweets mentioning keywords about climate migration between the 1st of January and the 28th February. Most of them though weren’t specifically mentioning climate migrations, but there is an important difference with the COP 20 period: no climate skepticism tweet appears in the mention ranking of Visibrain Focus TM:
I created another filter in order to get only the tweets about climate migrants. I got about 11 000 tweets per month, so less than 10 % of my whole search. Visibrain Focus TM allows me to visualize the tweets within a two month period, so I divided this analysis in three periods.
- From the 01/01/15 to the 01/03/15
We can see that from the 13 847 tweets, more than 25 % concern the #walruspatrol, an action from the WWF about … animal migration! So it seems that animals climate migration get more attention than human climate migration. It was also the case during Lima COP 20.
The following social network analysis, created with the free software Gephi, is a data visualization of twitter users accounts. The bigger the node is, the more mentions a twitter users got from other users. The different colors represent the various communities. A community in social network analysis is a group of nodes that often mention each other.
We can see here that a lot of communities are built around influential users such as @wwf: it is because they published one or several tweets that got a lot of mentions / RT. On the contrary, we can see on the middle of the dataviz a network in blue with nodes of similar sizes. This community is the most relevant, because it’s the only one where most of its member share a similar number of mentions: this blue community is made of twitter accounts conversing with each other and with other communities, while the others ones consist of various twitter accounts retweeting an article or a tweet about climate migration without any impact outside their community.
Gephi allows us to make different calculation of influence than the number of mentions for and from each twitter accounts on the datavisualation.Betweeness Centrality measures the connectivity of a node (a twitter account) to all the other twitter accounts of the network. In our case, an important betweeness centrality value signifies that a twitter account has been mentioned by and that he mentioned other accounts from various communities, enabling it to reach a very heterogeneous audience.
The 50 accounts with the most important value of betweeness centrality show that it is this blue community that is actually on the center of the twitter discussion on climate migration. Some of these users, such as @alex_randall, @ducyks, @koko_warner … were already active during the COP 20.
- From the 01/03/15 to the 30/04/15 :
The data visualization of the most mentioned twitter users during this period is very similar to the previous one. There are various influential accounts, each with its specific audience, and, this time in the bottom half of the map, the blue network.
From the 30/04/15 to the 29/06/15, we get the same result. During the first semester of 2015, it is always the same group of users that is in the center of twitter conversations about climate migrations. In the following data visualisation I underligned in yellow the ten twitter accounts who were mentionned in each periode since the COP 20.
The ten most active and influent twitter users about climate change since the COP 20 in Lima are:
@nanseninitiativ : Towards protecting people displaced across borders in the context of disasters and the effects of climate change. Led and financed by Norway and Switzerland;
@Koko_Warner : Climate Change: loss & damage, adaptation, climate risk insurance, human migration. IPCC Lead Author;
@UNUEHS : @UNUniversity- Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) UN think tank bridging climate research and climate policy. RT ≠ endorsement;
@UKCCMC : We exist to challenge the lack of long-term strategies to support and protect people at risk of displacement linked to environmental change;
@alex_randall : Climate, migration, conflict for @UKCCMC climate change communication, public attitudes, psychology for @ClimateOutreach – cat, dog, Wales;
@duycks : Researcher (Enviro Governance, Human Rights, #Arctic Governance, #UNFCCC #COP21) at @Arctic_Centre | visiting fellow @WTIworldtrade;
@IOM_news : Official Twitter account of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Retweets are not endorsements;
@IOM_MECLEP : Migration as adaptation. IOM research project on Migration, Environment and Climate Change funded by the European Union @IOM_news;
@TransReProject : Research group looking at #climate change, #migration, #adaptation & social #resilience of rural communities in #Thailand. Funded by #BMBF, hosted by @UniBonn;
@IDMC_Geneva : Global leaders in the monitoring and analysis of people forced to flee worldwide. Tweets on at-risk and uprooted peoples. RT ≠ endorsement.
They use mostly the hashtags #migration, #displacement, #disastermobility, #refugee, and #humanrights. They link the climate migration issue to climate disasters and refugees, and choose to use hashtags in most of their tweets to increase their visibility.
100 days to COP 21: tweets about climate refugee increase along all COP 21 related tweets
During summer, 20 592 tweets were sent about climate refugees, from some influential institutions or entrepreneurs such as the Nasa or Richard Branson. I made a social network analysis of this period but it only showed groups of separate communities made of twitter accounts retweets. It is interesting to note that the most mentioned tweets from this period were sent by people or organisations that were not active on climate migration previously :
Starting with September, there is an important increase in tweets about climate migration :
With 38 306 tweets sent by 24 590 different twitter accounts on climate migration during September and October 2015, there were about 4 times more tweets on this subject than during the first semester of 2015. This doesn’t really mean that climate migration became a hot topic, as the total of tweets without the climate migration filter for this period is 3.5 times higher.
Let’s take a focus on October from the 1st to the 31th October, one month before the beginning of COP 21 at Paris. We can see here that the most mentioned twitter accounts are Newspapers and TV Shows: BBC, Planetary, ABC News, Time, Huffington Post … and also a few climate skeptics, mostly american conservatices, such as @LindaSuhler, @angelacarwile and @SteveSGoddard. Some of them are quite active:
We can also identify individuals very interested in the climate migration issues, such as @AssaadRazzouk, CEO of a sustainable energy company:
What about our top ten influencers from the first semester of 2015? The social network analysis of the tweets exchanged about climate migration during October shows for the first time that our influencers from Lima are on the center of all exchanges, and they represent the most important community with 4 % of the twitter accounts representing 10 % of all tweets – which means they are 2.5 times more active on the subject than the other twitter accounts of this subject.
The next step: Paris 2015
The Conference of the Parties of Paris will begin on the 30th November and finish two weeks later. It is a golden opportunity, with eyes all around the world focused on environmental issues, to advocate for climate migration issues. At Lima, only 1.38 % of all tweets were about climate migration – using the same filter I applied here, it would fall to 0.83 % …
The community which is the most active on climate migration since Lima is growing stronger and having more and more visibility. We shall see in a following analysis how they fared at Paris. After that, Emily Chevalier will use all my data to analyse and compare the hashtags and key words used on twitter by these influencers, by all people talking about climate migrations, and by people leaving on land threaten by global warming. Stay tuned!