Friday, July 07, 2006

'Global warming' or 'climate change'?

Seth Godin, a marketing blogger, raises the interesting point that despite the real threat of global warming, no one is taking to the streets in protest. He suggests the reason the consequences have not breached the consciousness of the population is that the term, global warming, has implicit positive connotations:

The muted reaction to our impending disaster comes down to two things:

1. The name.

Global is good.
Warm is good.
Even greenhouses are good places.

How can "global warming" be bad?


He suggests that a different framing like 'atmospheric cancer' or 'pollution death' would be more catchy. Those with a tendency to denial, which to some degree is all of us, may tend to dismiss concern based on the non-threatening name on first impression.

I use the term global warming because that is the dominant search term in the genre. That's what people type in when they are looking for information on the phenomena. While current global warming is the effect of man-made greenhouse gas build up in the atmosphere, its own consequence is rapid climate change. That's the term I would prefer to frame the discussion with. We would be be giving the problem more attention. People at large don't like change, and rapid climate change sounds very unsettling. But my logs show me that the search term climate change appears half the rate of global warming. Hence Global Warming Watch!

If the term global warming is like the long, slow, gradual, initial incline up to the top of a roller coaster then rapid climate change is the Oh-Jesus-stomach-in-the-mouth-drop, the loop-the-loop, and the dives, twists and jinks. We are still on the slow incline, and that is why global warming is more accurate and will be the preferred term for denialists and skeptics to frame the discussion around, but those interested in moving the discussion on should brand it rapid climate change. There is less room for doubt than with global warming, and less room for the public debate which has been undermined by a disinformation campaign mounted by vested interests in cheap fossil fuel energy.

The term has urgency, focuses the mind on averting outcomes and we should use it well before we get to the Oh-Jesus drop. Or we may get ourselves trapped on this rollercoaster ride. Permanently.

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1 comment:

Pete Boardman said...

Al Gore got the wether and global warming right, but his solution is a non-starter. I hav insulated my house, purchased a small, high-milage car, and changed jobs to become a transit bus driver. But what we need is not individual responsibility, but political responsibility. What I hav saved in energy and CO2, has been more than squandered by my next door neighbor with his Pickup Truck, his wifes and two sons cars, his boat, the two jet skis, his summer house with its airconditioning, and so on. We need a government that will make SUVs and pickup trucks conform tu stringent milage limits. We need the popular will tu eliminate jet skis and race cars. We need politicians that will challange the corporate-profit model whare it impinges on peoples future. We need a political leader that will procure the Presidancy and lead the rest of the country in the demand for action, restrictions and control.

As Gore says, we have the tools, the technology, the skills, and the money to do what is necessary. What we lack is the political will. What he lacks is the political will.

When I considered running for President I determined that my constituancy would be 1% of the population. Gore had the popular vote and conceeded to a rigged election and a stacked court decision. If I had a constiuancy that comprised mor than haf the cuntry, I wuhd not hav bakd down in the fase of GWB. I would hav demanded, in the name of the people of the United States, a complete investigation of the election, the ballots, the exit polls, everything. I would hav demanded an examination of the connections between corporate spending and political chicanerie. I probably would hav been assinated by the FBI or CIA. Baring that, I would hav won. It would hav been ugly, but we would not hav had the subsequent 6 mor years of the Bush administration, with its terrorist demolition of the WTC, the War of Occupation in Iraq, the war of retaliation in Afgahnistan, the tortures of Abu Garaib and Guantanomo, the dissolution of the Constitution of the United States of America, the needless and reckless sacrifice of mor than 2500 American lives and countless Iraqi lives.

Oh well, we lack the political will to save ourselves from ourselves even tho we hav all the resources necessary.