12 April 2011
I was thinking recently about the terms "global warming" and "climate change." "Global warming" carries a certain affective quality that might get people moving to change their behavior, but it's not a very accurate description of how people experience the phenomenon. In place of "global warming," we've been using the term "global climate change," which accords more with people's experiences, but doesn't quite carry the affective quality that "global warming" does. It doesn't scare them, because the climate changes, it's never been stable, we've always adapted, and we'll adapt this time. So we have a dilemma, how to connect to people's experience while simultaneously conveying the need for change?
I propose the term "Global Climate Disruption" as an alternative to both of the above terms. It is as if to say that things have been humming along just fine for a long time now - thousands, maybe tens of thousands of years - but now it's all been thrown up into the air and we don't know how it's going to work out. The world is changing fast, and we need to do something about it.
Not that a new term will solve all of the problems of communication or acceptance of the science, but it might have some effect. The term global warming got people moving through the 90s until people started to realize that their experience wasn't one of warming - in some cases it actually got colder and we saw more snow and harsher winters. Changing to something equally affective and more accurate might nudge some people that little extra into doing something different. Then again, maybe not.
What do you think?
PS - Guess I'm not the first to think of this. :)
Posted by Jeremy Trombley at 12:11 PM