What’s Up with Global Warming? Or, a Rose by any Other Name…

by Ellen

Photo credit: fauxto_digit on flickr

I have to wonder at the slow conversion of the term “global warming” to “climate change.” Oh, you can still turn up a few die-hard websites proclaiming the immediate need to address global warming. They are the brave.

Politics or Ignorance?

As the Earth’s overall temperature consistently rises, regional fluctuations in temperature vary widely.  Extreme weather events occur more frequently world-wide. Among those who equate weather and climate, a colder than normal season brings out the global warming naysayers. So, are we pulling a fast one on the ignorant by calling our situation “climate change,” instead? Come on, let’s not mince words. Perhaps if we stuck to the moniker with the most wallop and didn’t back down, more people would eventually get it: Global warming is responsible for climate change.

Then there is the politicizing of our earthly condition. As David Brooks recently remarked on PBS’ News Hour,

…support for a response to global warming has gone down in the American public.

And that’s because a lot of the global warming information, including by Al Gore, was very partisan. So, it drift — it pushed people away who are not liberal Democrats. And, to me, that was a mistake. That’s been a mistake for 15 years. They should have made a much less partisan global warming campaign. And I think — I’m not sure you would have got people in the near term, but you would have had more public support behind this legislation.¹

Fact is, we can play the blame game, but it simply delays addressing the real problem — the world is warming rapidly regardless of politics. Is “global warming” too liberal?

After three summer heat waves and a spate of ridiculously humid weather, our local television station decided to run a reminder of winter on the evening news. Clips of residents bemoaning the cold, snow, and ice ran alongside images of rain-soaked snow, downed power lines and endless shoveling. Did this story make me feel better about summer? Am I looking forward even more to the inevitable change of seasons? I’m not sure what the station was hoping to achieve, but it served to solidify my fear — our planet is warming in dangerous ways that must be addressed now.  Call it “climate change” if you want, but let’s slow the warming.


1) Shields and Brooks, Will Voters Think Democrats Have Gone Too Liberal? The News Hour, PBS, July 23, 2010.

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