Should global warming get a new name?
Is global warming too cutesy a term? Some scientists and writers say the phrase doesn't capture the gravity of the problem and have suggested phrases like "global disruption," "global heating," and "atmosphere cancer" instead.
It reminds me of Orwell's Doublethink--where words and catchphrases are deliberately constructed with hidden political messages.
Is that what's happening here? Does the phrase impose an opinion on the person using it, and if so, what's a better alternative?
John P. Holdren, the head of Harvard’s center on science and technology policy, is sick and tired of “global warming” — not just the problem, but the phrase. As the respondent to a panel on climate and the press at this year’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston (I was on the panel), he urged the media, and scientists who talk to the press, to substitute “global climate disruption” for that all-too-comfortable pair of words.
“We’ve been almost anesthetized by this term,” Dr. Holdren lamented. The atmospheric buildup of long-lived greenhouse gases is setting in motion centuries of shifts in climate patterns, coastlines, water resources and ecosystems, he said — hardly a transformation one would describe with a gentle word like warming.
1. the name.
Global is good.
Warm is good.
Even greenhouses are good places.
How can “global warming” be bad?
I’m not being facetious. If the problem were called “Atmosphere cancer” or “Pollution death” the entire conversation would be framed in a different way.
2. the pace and the images.
One degree every few years doesn’t make good TV. Because activists have been unable to tell their story with vivid images about immediate actions, it’s just human nature to avoid the issue. Why give up something we enjoy now to make an infintesimal change in something that is going to happen far in the future?