You Say Climate Change, I Say Global Warming

Diane Dandaneau, Executive Director of the ConservEd Project and Colorado Interfaith Power & Light, is back from Nashville, Tennessee. She is one of the talented 1000, chosen to attend Al Gore’s training sessions on global warming.* “It was amazing!” she tells me this evening from Colorado.

Attending The Climate Project sessions are NASA scientists, biologists, pastors, musicians, psychologists, foresters and many others. Here in Maine, The Coastal Journal (“Proudly Serving Maine’s Midcoast Community Since 1969”) runs a front-page series, “Next Energy: Looking at Living with Less Oil.” A lead story recently, “Global Warming Messenger from Damariscotta,” describes the experience of Paul Kando, who, like Diane, went to Nashville. I spoke with Paul on the phone; like Diane, Paul is back in his home town, spreading the message.

In Nashville, Diane met a Microsoft sustainability expert, and she spoke at length with Gore’s “science guy.” Asking him of peak oil, he said, “there’s so much fossil fuel, it’s toast before we burn it all.” In other words, it’s not about peak oil; it’s about getting to zero.

* Terry Gross’s “Fresh Air” interview with Frank Luntz ran on NPR this week. Luntz says he advises the Republican Party to call ‘global warming,’ ‘climate change,’ because ‘climate change’ sounds more scientific, less polarizing and less radical…less like enviros who, according to Luntz, are extremists.
This is trippy stuff. In the recent past, I was told that ‘global warming’ was coined by the naysayers of the science, because ‘global warming’ sounded palatable and non-threatening (everyone loves warmth, right?) ‘Climate change’ in contrast, was the term to avoid, because ‘climate change’ smacked of science. And ‘change’? Nobody likes ‘change,’ so call it ‘global warming.’ Everyone will love it!
Quite possibly everybody did, but not as intended.
It’s quite possible that, like the term ‘politically correct,’ the term ‘global warming’ was created to fend off public outcry by those who opposed the science; it was then usurped by ‘the opposition’ and oozed out into the public consciousness, the opposite of its intended, manipulative meaning.
Quite possibly, Luntz fueled the PR machine with ‘global warming,’ found it usurped by the extremists (the enviros), and now is advocating ‘climate change.’
At this point, who the hell cares, except Luntz and his PR machinery…and his publisher?

3 replies
  1. Bill Barney
    Bill Barney says:

    Most of the climate scientists I know use the terms "climate change" or "global change." (UC Irvine's Earth System Science department used to have a cute logo in the form of a derivative, dX/dt, where instead of an X there was a picture of the globe). Climate change is triggered by a temperature rise, but it's really about the hydrological cycle: pumping more water into the atmosphere, intensifying storms, changing ocean temperature structure and circulation… so I prefer the term climate change whether Luntz likes it or not.

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