What’s the point of language — especially in science? If you are naive, you might think it’s to communicate a fixed concept so everyone understands and can voice an opinion on the same thing. You would be wrong. The real purpose of scientific terms is to motivate the punters to behave differently (especially if that means “give us more money”). That’s why the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has assigned 5 PhD’s and a guy called Feinberg to spend days, weeks and months analyzing surveys to find out which propaganda term is more “effective”. The simple answer is “global warming” ekes out more fear and pain among democrats than “climate change”; therefore expect to see its use rocket.
The survey sample of 1,657 people, compiled over a two-week period late last year, found a large swathe of Americans turned off by the words “climate change”.
“The use of the term climate change appears to actually reduce issue engagement by Democrats, Independents, liberals, and moderates, as well as a variety of subgroups within American society, including men, women, minorities, different generations, and across political and partisan lines,” the researchers said.
Americans in general were 13% more likely to say that global warming was a bad thing.
The average punter just doesn’t talk as much about climate change, and it isn’t as scary:
[Time] In a new report by the Yale Project on Climate Communications, researchers led by Anthony Leiserowitz surveyed Americans and found that “global warming” is used much more commonly than “climate change,” both in conversation and in Internet searches, and that “global warming” is significantly more engaging than “climate change.” That’s because global warming generated more alarming associations, causing survey respondents to think of disasters like melting ice, coastal flooding and extreme weather, while “climate change” generated more banal associations with generation weather patterns.
“Global warming” was also associated with:
- Greater certainty that the phenomenon was happening
- Greater understanding that human activities were the primary driver of warming, especially among political independents
- A greater sense of personal threat, as well as more intense worry about the issue
- A greater sense that people are being harmed right now by warming, and a greater sense of threat to future generations
- Greater support for both large and small-scale actions by the U.S. (although “climate change” generates more support for medium-scale efforts, especially among Republicans.)
Among republicans the effect was curiously the opposite: some Republicans have apparently learned to hate “global warming”. But luckily they are irrelevant because they are mostly lost to the faith anyhow — they were never going to convert back. Phew:
[Time] The Yale report found that Republicans don’t really care which term is used, though “global warming” will sometimes generate stronger negative feelings among conservatives. Not that it much matters—a recent Gallup poll found that 65% of conservatives said they were skeptical of climate change, compared to just 24% of moderates and 9% of liberals.
The meaning of “global warming” was destroyed a long time ago. It used to mean the globe warmed, but has come to mean coal-oil-and-gas have caused all the global warming since 1780 (but none of it before then.) No, seriously, they define it that way:
“Global warming refers to the increase in the Earth’s average surface temperature since the Industrial Revolution, primarily due to the emission of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels and land use change, whereas climate change refers to the long-term change the Earth’s climate including changes in temperature, precipitation, and wind patterns over a period of several decades or longer.”
The point of a conversation, after all, is not so you can agree on terms and convince people of something, it’s so you can cajole, coerce and trick them into giving the answer you want.
The Guardian (in a different article) wins my award for the best Destruction-of-English-for-The-Cause line:
“It leads researchers to believe that much of the public does not understand that both phrases reference the same concept and information.”
Yes, global warming and climate change no longer have actual meanings in English, now they both just mean We’re saving the world, give us your money. Repeat after me: If it is climate, it is warming (there is no cooling). All change is bad. The globe is changing. Global equals warming. Climate means heat, death, fires and flood. Any questions?
Naturally since people who believe in Carbon Disaster were never interested in a real conversation, we can expect to see them go back to misusing “Global Warming” immediately, ad infinitum.
Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The research was funded by the Energy Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, the Grantham Foundation, and the V.K. Rasmussen Foundation.