Extreme Temperature Diary-June 18, 2019/What’s In A Name?…Adjusted Nomenclature To Aid The Environment

Tuesday June 18th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

What’s In A Name?…Adjusted Nomenclature To Aid The Environment

As a writer on climate I had become used to such terms as “climate change” and “global warming,” not thinking too much about what I thought were two interchangeable noun phrases. Now in mid 2019 it has been determined through surveys and other communication tools that the public reacts more positively to different nomenclature than what I’m used to dishing out on my daily posts. What I see today as a writer is a veritable land mine of terms that I should not use or terms I should be penning. You may have noticed lately that I am using the term “climate crisis” instead of “climate change,” for example. Nomenclature in dealing with the environment is today’s main subject addressed mainly to my friends who need to make some changes to convince at least a few more people that Houston we have a big problem. The Guardian does a great job breaking down the terms that all of us dealing with the “climate crisis” should be writing and voicing if you are on television, doing a podcast, or are on the radio. Check this out:


The urgency of climate crisis needed robust new language to describe it

Paul Chadwick

Paul Chadwick

Changes to how the Guardian writes about climate announced by Katharine Viner prompted a discussion with readers

A man in his tornado-damaged home in Trotwood, Ohio, last month.
‘Extreme weather is increasing and climate patterns established for millennia are changing.’ A man in his tornado-damaged home in Trotwood, Ohio, last month. Photograph: Seth Herald/AFP/Getty Images

Initial reader response was positive to the Guardian’s recent changes to the way it will refer to climate. “This is an epic struggle of ideas, crucial to our future,” wrote one aye-sayer. The announcement by editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, of five changes to the style guide generated reaction in media and science. For each change (in bold below) I asked Viner for her reasons, which follow here in italics. She began by reiterating that “none of the old terms is banned. If in a particular circumstance the original term is clearly more appropriate, then it should be used. But the preference is for the new terms.”
Use climate emergency, crisis or breakdown instead of climate change
Huge-scale and immediate action is needed to slash emissions but they are still going up – that’s an emergency or crisis. Extreme weather is increasing and climate patterns established for millennia are changing – hence breakdown.
Use global heating instead of global warming
Global heating is more scientifically accurate … Greenhouse gases form an atmospheric blanket that stops the sun’s heat escaping back to space.
Use wildlife instead of biodiversity
Biodiversity is not a common or well understood term, and is a bit clinical when you are talking about all the creatures that share our planet.
Use fish populations instead of fish stocks
This change emphasises that fish do not exist solely to be harvested by humans – they play a vital role in the natural health of the oceans.
Use climate science denier or climate denier instead of climate sceptic
Very few experts are, in good faith, truly sceptical of climate science, or of the necessity for strong climate action. Those arguing against it are denying the overwhelming evidence that the climate crisis exists.

An ugent global issue … Extinction Rebellion protest in London on Friday.
An ugent global issue … Extinction Rebellion protest in London on Friday. Photograph: Ollie Millington/Getty Images

Readers took the discussion further, and I put some of their suggestions (bold) to Viner for her responses (italics).
Wildlife” is insufficient to describe “biodiversity”
A reasonable argument … biodiversity is not banned, if it’s clearly the best term, then use it … wildlife is a much more accessible word and is fair to use in many stories.
Carbon emissions” should be “carbon dioxide emissions”
“Carbon dioxide emissions” is technically correct, but a commonly used shorthand, “greenhouse gas emissions”, is even better if we’re talking about all gases that warm the atmosphere, ie including methane, nitrogen oxides, CFCs etc.
Consider “climate instability” instead of “climate heating”
“Global heating”and “climate breakdown” serve the same purpose as “climate instability”.
Not heating, overheating
“Overheating” implies a judgment about how much is too much. I think that judgment is captured by “climate crisis, emergency, breakdown”.

I support Viner’s direction of travel. She is harnessing the power of language usage to focus minds on an urgent global issue. One challenge for the Guardian and the Observer will be to weigh, in specific journalistic contexts, two sometimes competing aspects of terminology used in public debates: language as description, and language as exhortation.

• Paul Chadwick is the Guardian’s readers’ editor

I’ve come up with a couple of pet phrases like “carbon pollution” and “brown energy,” which I refer to for coal and oil usage. Maybe these are great, or maybe you, the reader, would prefer something different. Also, please notify me if I slip, writing an old phrase. I’ll definitely have to get used to writing “global heating” instead of “global warming.” Yes, in an effort to win the “Climate War” we all as writers must be willing to make some changes. What? You don’t like “Climate War?” Aye ya ya…We will see if I need to make a change when I go there too.😉

Here is more climate and weather news from Tuesday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)

Here are Tuesday’s hot “ET” reports:

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Guy Walton- “The Climate Guy”

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