Why Was Global Warming Renamed Climate Change

Due to the impact of climate change on our environment, scientists are increasingly striving to gain an understanding of the changes occurring to our atmosphere. To that end, over the decades, there has been a push to renaming ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’. By doing so, the discourse about climate change has altered for the better. It is essential to consider how and why this change has been made, along with both the advantageous and disadvantageous implications of the term.

On the one hand, the evolution of language used to discuss climate change has been beneficial. ‘Global warming’ primarily signified only one component of the bigger picture. This meant that contributors had only the heat trapping effects of the atmosphere to engage with. However, ‘climate change’ allows researchers and the like to argue with the multifaceted effects that mankind’s behaviour is having on our atmosphere. Such a term has opened up the topic for further discourse and now encompasses issues that were originally not taken into account. For instance, ‘climate change’ covers consequences such as extreme weather events, the melting of polar ice and dramatic sea level rise – all of which were dissociated with global warming.

In addition, many individuals argue that ‘climate change’ is a more neutral and scientifically accurate phrase to describe the subject in hand. Primarily, the term ‘global warming’ connotes an idea that fails to deliver the magnitude of what is actually at stake: a complete overhaul of the climate as we know it. Warming can sound quite banal, when in fact the consequences that come with it have implications for the entire world. In that regard, ‘climate change’ captures the complexity of the problem in a more precise manner than ‘global warming’.

On the other hand, by renaming ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’, the language used to display the urgency of the situation has been diluted. It is crucial to consider Leonard Bernstein’s notion that “to achieve great things, two things are needed, a plan and not quite enough time.” By substituting ‘global warming’ with ‘climate change’, the momentousness of the problem is not captured. By not using such a precise phrase, we are in a serious danger of believing that a timeline has been stretched and action is not of immediate necessity, when in actuality a drastic switch in behaviour is more than essential.

Moreover, by shifting the language surrounding climate change, we have created two distinct camps: those that believe the human race has an influence on the changing climate, and those that are sceptical. Herein lies the divisive nature of the term ‘climate change’. Whilst it was intended to encompass all of the multifarious elements that accompany the phenomenon, it has instead created schisms between individuals and parties. As many elements of the problem are passionately debated and argued, there is huge potential for polarisation of opinions.

To conclude, it is with no doubt that the discourse surrounding climate change has been enhanced by the emergence of the term ‘climate change’. That said, the utilisation of such an expressive phrase could prove to be detrimental too. As the climate changes, so the language must change: however, it is crucial that we be mindful of the new lexicography and ensure that the urgency of the situation is never compromised.

Joseph Pearson is a passionate advocate for global warming, ecology and the environment. He believes that it is our responsibility to be stewards of the planet, and take steps to reduce our environmental impact. He has dedicated his life to educating people about the importance of taking action against global warming and preserving our natural resources

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