Words have power. Words can be used to frame a discussion fairly or unfairly to limit and control how the members of that discussion are able to think about the presented concepts and issues. This framing can be done completely without the members knowing that their thinking (or options) to understand (or resolve) some issue has been invisibly limited and controlled. On political and social levels, the unfair or inaccurate reframing of words is called propaganda.
The four reasons why we must stop using the term climate change wherever possible
Reason 1: The first reason is exceedingly simple. We need to use terms that most reflect the actual reality of our current climate condition. Unfortunately, the term climate change does not do that or even come close.
On the other hand, using the term runaway global heating extinction emergency far more accurately reflects the reality of our current climate condition. We truly are in runaway global heating because we have already crossed critical amplifying climate feedback loops and climate tipping points, creating the beginning stages of runaway global heating. According to James Hansen, the respected NASA climate scientist, we entered runaway global heating when we passed the atmospheric carbon level (CO2) of about carbon 386 parts per million (ppm) level around 2015. (As of March of 2022, we are now at Carbon 421 ppm.)
Runaway global warming is very serious. If you imagined runaway global heating like a train without brakes rolling down a mountain that is getting steeper and steeper, you would have a good idea about the seriousness of runaway global heating consequences and how they will keep increasing faster and faster.
You can see our runaway global warming in the atmospheric carbon CO2 graph below. As atmospheric carbon rises faster and faster (the steepening dotted line), so is global heating.
Reason 2: There is no current and credible scientific doubt consensus that we are currently experiencing global heating caused by humans burning fossil fuels. (See the global heating explanation link at the end of this page.)
Reason 3: The term “climate change” was heavily promoted by Republican strategist Frank Luntz, who suggested using it in government publications and discussions because it’s less “frightening” than saying “global warming” This was then picked up by the fossil fuel lobbyists.
The well-funded fossil fuel industry and its lobbyists have successfully re-framed our real runaway global heating extinction emergency into the widespread use of the vague and non-threatening concept and term called climate change. Unfortunately, this clever re-framing of our current extinction-triggering global heating as climate change has dramatically hindered the public's ability to think accurately about the absolute urgency and severity of the runaway global heating extinction threat.
Well-funded fossil fuel lobbyists have invisibly and successfully re-framed the global heating emergency by getting governments, worldwide media, and even many unwitting environmental groups to use the innocuous, vague, and relatively calming "climate change" term. This climate change propaganda is designed to redefine (or confuse) the ordinary meaning of words and their concepts to control a target's ability to think about those concepts or, even hold specific "undesirable" concepts in their minds, which the source of propaganda does not want to be considered.
This term re-framing technique is how the 28 trillion dollar-a-year fossil fuel industry and its lobbyists have successfully redefined the truth and power of what we are facing, namely, the runaway global heating extinction emergency. As a result, the fossil fuel industry has redirected the mass public's attention away from the urgency of the real threat to something that the average citizen does not see as a threat or problem, the mushy climate change idea and term.
This sleight-of-hand terminology swap has turned a scary and honest global heating truth that needs to be dealt with on an urgent and emergency basis into the nebulous and benign concept in the average citizen's mind. In the average citizen's mind, this looks like the ideas that, "the climate (the weather) is always changing. It is changing exactly how it has customarily and always behaved during my lifetime."
Because of this intentional misdirection and climate condition terminology reframing, people falsely feel safe. They then believe that nothing much needs to be done (or is done) to deal with the "ever-changing natural and seasonal processes of the climate." Unfortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth!
Reason 4: We are genuinely in an extinction emergency and a fight for the very survival of humanity. Reframing the runaway global heating extinction emergency into climate change was not the only clever propaganda manipulation by the fossil fuel lobbyists.
These fossil fuel lobbyists also have the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations (as well as worldwide media and our governments) telling us that climate change is only a vague and nebulous "existential threat" at some yet unknown or unspoken date in our future.
Here is the problem with telling people there is an existential threat sometime off in an unknown future:
1. The average human IQ is 100.
2. The majority of the human population has little to no idea what the word existential means. Does it relate to the existential philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard?
3. Even if they look existential up, they get the definition of "relating to existence." That sure could mean a lot of vague things and not be experienced as anything close to what we are now facing, which is a rapidly accelerating global heating extinction threat to our soon arriving future. (Extinction by mid-century for about half of humanity and around 2050- 2080 for most of the rest of humanity.)
I think you can see why we have to stop feeding vagueness and using an "existential" threat. This is not a vague or low-probability threat. (Links at the end of this document will give you a deeper understanding of how runaway global heating has become an extinction emergency.
We have to get the IPCC, our media, and our governments to start using the correct terms for our current climate condition, which average people can understand and that will motivate them into action. Imagine what could change if billion of citizens realized that their extinction from runaway global heating is just a few decades away or sooner.
It is now time to do something about this hidden theft of our collective ability to think correctly about the runaway global heating extinction emergency and its imminent threat to all life! It is time to use more accurate climate terms and change how the world thinks about what is going on with runaway global heating.
The Aikido of one unique wording option
Aikido is often defined as the art of using whatever attack is thrown at you against itself to overcome an adversary. One way we can do some Aikido when we are forced to use the term climate change is to add to it. When we change climate change into the climate change extinction emergency, it completely defeats the purpose of the fossil fuel industry lobbyists.
Please Take the "I Will Stop Using the Term Climate Change Whenever I Can" Pledge
- I hereby pledge to stop using climate change in my daily conversations. Instead, I will use the terms global heating, the runaway global heating extinction emergency, the climate change extinction emergency, the global warming emergency, escalating global warming, out of control global heating, or catastrophic climate destabilization to describe the current accelerating increase in the Earth's average global temperature and the ongoing and escalating destruction to our lives and the environment caused by global heating primarily due to our burning of fossil fuels.
- I pledge that I will contest the fossil fuel industry lobbyists and climate deniers mis-framing and falsely defining the real dangers of the runaway global heating extinction emergency by calling it climate change!
- I pledge that I will help forward this pledge to others particularly, other environmental groups I know about.
Here is a chart to provide more ideas about better language because the language we use in vitally important.
(Please note: Our organization does still occasionally use the term climate change on our website, but only to guide people to our website on the Internet using the still dominant climate change search term. We also use global heating-related terms when mentioning climate change on our website.
To learn more about why runaway global heating is a true extinction emergency, see this link.
To learn more about the leading global heating extinction-accelerating tipping points and why we have only until 2025-2031 to prevent our near-total extinction, see this link.
To see credible science on the existence of global heating, see this link.
Please also, forward this article and pledge to anyone you know in the environmental and climate education groups.