Americans Worry More About "Global Warming" Than "Climate Change"

Americans Worry More About "Global Warming" Than "Climate Change"

A recent study from Yale has found that Americans respond more strongly to the phrase "global warming" than they do to "climate change."

You'd be amazed at how much of a difference the way you say things can make. For instance, what do you think of when I say "burger." Chances are your first thoughts will be of a mouth watering slice of perfectly cooked deliciousness draped in melted cheese and topped off with your favorite condiment (and yes, bacon counts). Swap that out with "the ground up meat of poorly treated factory slaughtered livestock" however and I'll bet you a dime that your mind goes somewhere else.

Funnily enough, the same trick apparently works when it comes to global warming. Or should I say climate change? According to a recent study at Yale, using one phrase or the other can have a deep effect on how Americans specifically view what is literally the same problem. "Those two terms get heard and interpreted in very different ways," said Anthony Leiserowitz, one of the lead authors of the study. "The choice of these two terms really does matter, depending on who you are talking two."

Saying "global warming" has a better chance of eliciting concern from Americans while "climate change" is 13 percent more likely to earn you an uncaring shrug. The results aren't all that surprising, especially when you consider the way the different terms have been in the past. For instance, back in 2002 Republican political consultants advised then-president George W. Bush to phase out the use of "global warming" in favor of the less dire sounding "climate change."

"Global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it," explained the researchers. "Climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge." It's a bit of a conundrum for scientists who by-and-large prefer saying "climate change" on account of it being technically more accurate. That being the case, Leirserowitz believes that the scientific community might just have to bite the bullet and change if it wants its point to get across. "It is a kind of a wake-up call that it is complicated and that sometimes, depending on who you are communicating with, you are not achieving what you think you are," he said.

Source: The Guardian

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TopazFusion:
And here I thought the reason scientists preferred to call it 'climate change' instead of 'global warming' was to stop comments like:

"hur dur, we're getting record low temperatures? where's your global warming now, scientists?"

The best bit is when you really boggle peoples minds with further defining it as anthropological climate change, some people get really baffled by that.

Climate change is the better term though, although the overall net global temperature are rising many places around the world will see different effects. Some may get wetter or colder, some may become more prone to storms or snow fall with others getting warmer and/or drier.

No surprise to those study results. Nothing we didn't basically already know.

We ARE talking about the same country whose citizens were easily fooled by rewording such as "not tor-ture but enhanced inter-rogation", "not civilian cas-ualties but en-emy comb-atants", "not corporate welfare but subsidies" as well as some of the more recent situations of the rich not being held liable for crim-inal acts because they're "suffering from Affluenza".

TopazFusion:
And here I thought the reason scientists preferred to call it 'climate change' instead of 'global warming' was to stop comments like:

"hur dur, we're getting record low temperatures? where's your global warming now, scientists?"

That reminds me of this xkcd strip.

image

Though i have to wonder, how much of that is down to 'muricans simply not realising that the two phrases refer to the same thing?

I'm an American, and the word "climate change" means more to me than "global warming". I'm gonna be honest, that word started popping up in the media more often when I was but a wee lad, but even then, my mental process was "climate change is the whats really happening , 'global warming' is just a control word the media uses to make the issue seem worse and more imminent." I don't know if that's true or not, but my heavy apathy kicked in during high-school and its still running strong now.

a more precise phrase gives more response. yeah, nothing new with that.

GLobal warming is a type of clomate change, one that we are experiencing.

It is quite interesting how different phrases are used for PR reasons by both sides of politics on the issue. I personally support as little obfuscation and phrase changing as possible, unless it's irrefutably proven that changing the phrase used to describe the phenomenon of climate change in official UN documents will make people wake up and do more to combat it.

We are past the stage where apathy on the issue is ethical.

StewShearer:
"...depending on who you are talking two."

I sincerely hope that I don't have to point out what's wrong with this sentence.

I hate to say this, but the truth is that it didn't help that this process has become a lot more political as time goes on, and it is legitimately hard to get the politics out of it. Also people who are fighting for climate change to be taken seriously are not doing themselves any favors by venting their frustrations while trying to assert how right they are.

I don't mean this to say they aren't right, quite the opposite, but I am saying that they could stand to be a bit more strategic with the words they use.

First of all the term "settled science" is stupid. Its a term that flies in the face of what science stands for. The "settled Sciences" of our world have been as dangerously wrong as they have been fantastically right. Even if there is a general consensus we shouldn't be quick to discredit scientists who don't think that way because that is equally as messy and is anti-science. That being said, we should be very critical of their work. It's completely ok to prove something wrong. I mean this is just to say that we are diffusing any real discussion, by creating an environment where skeptics and advocates among those of us who know what we're talking about. Needless to say I am not a climate scientist therefor it is in my best interest to know that those people aren't treating me like an audience and telling me what I want to hear when there are real consequences involved.

I think another mistake here is to assume that the United States needs more legislation or changes in legislation where in reality what the US needs is a more sympathetic and engaged culture for all issues on all sides that will create an environment for discourse that is productive rather then destructive as it is in the present. Right now American politicians see this debate as a chance to win support for one side or another, and this issue as much as we think it should be that, can't be that right now until we can find a good strong political middle ground.

More simply put, there are people getting elected solely on the grounds that they oppose who or what their electorate doesn't like. That is to say that if someone they liked supported this argument the conversation would dramatically shift. We can chastise those kind of voters all we want, but unless you want to legislate them out of the democratic process, then play the game, and stop losing based on principles.

That is a serious problem. Everything is used for politics and made into a fucking popularity contest, not only in the US, but also in the EU. You divert from problems with this bullshit and the world slowly goes to hell...

Well no shit, one is a term that tells you what is happening and that you can intuit the effects of and the other says only that something is happening. I respond more strongly to global warming than client change and I'm in Australia, where until recently, we were thought to have some modicum of common sense. It's just being human.

But yes, if we had our time again I think climate change would have been better to use from the start, to counter the idiots who say that because a particular place has gotten colder, the Earth can't be heating up. Polar ice is another one, yes, there's more surface area, but it's not as thick, which makes sense because ice rising faster in warmer water is going to dissipate more.

This is funny, and also reinforces the stupid 'murican stereotype. And therefore also slightly worrying.

Kameburger:

First of all the term "settled science" is stupid. Its a term that flies in the face of what science stands for. The "settled Sciences" of our world have been as dangerously wrong as they have been fantastically right. Even if there is a general consensus we shouldn't be quick to discredit scientists who don't think that way because that is equally as messy and is anti-science. That being said, we should be very critical of their work. It's completely ok to prove something wrong. I mean this is just to say that we are diffusing any real discussion, by creating an environment where skeptics and advocates among those of us who know what we're talking about. Needless to say I am not a climate scientist therefor it is in my best interest to know that those people aren't treating me like an audience and telling me what I want to hear when there are real consequences involved.

I think the video illustrates beautifully the problem with your argument. Its got to the point where you cant people who oppose climate change skeptics, but deniers. They are almost on the same level as creationists now.

Kameburger:

I think another mistake here is to assume that the United States needs more legislation or changes in legislation where in reality what the US needs is a more sympathetic and engaged culture for all issues on all sides that will create an environment for discourse that is productive rather then destructive as it is in the present. Right now American politicians see this debate as a chance to win support for one side or another, and this issue as much as we think it should be that, can't be that right now until we can find a good strong political middle ground.

I'm sorry, but it is government legislation and subsidies that need to encourage the so called "free" market to purse green policies. America is country where by law corporations have to focus on short term profits for shareholders over social responsibilities.

Kameburger:

More simply put, there are people getting elected solely on the grounds that they oppose who or what their electorate doesn't like. That is to say that if someone they liked supported this argument the conversation would dramatically shift. We can chastise those kind of voters all we want, but unless you want to legislate them out of the democratic process, then play the game, and stop losing based on principles.

Who cares, there needs to be authoritarian action on this, Obama says its happening now, then do something about it. The UN says its happening now, then do something about. The EU is putting in CO2 reduction targets.

Didn't Obama promise "Change"? Jk.

People just have no inherent understanding of statistics, and follow buzzwords more than reason. It's why so many people still fall for gambling, when a quick mathmatical check would tell them it doesn't work.
And yeah, that's why an absolute Democracy never works. People who know what they're doing should make decisions, not everyone.

Really the scientific method should be taught in elementary school.

Piorn:
Didn't Obama promise "Change"? Jk.

People just have no inherent understanding of statistics, and follow buzzwords more than reason. It's why so many people still fall for gambling, when a quick mathmatical check would tell them it doesn't work.
And yeah, that's why an absolute Democracy never works. People who know what they're doing should make decisions, not everyone.

Really the scientific method should be taught in elementary school.

Until "the people who know what they're doing" decide that their opinion is the only right one and start to cut off any alternative paths of thought. Sometimes by literally cutting off bodily parts.

Which is what usually happens if you look at history. Scientific method or rationality in general goes down the drain rather fast when you add power and politics.

But yeah, it's weird that global warming provokes more images of climate change than well... "climate change".
It's partially the media's and even the ecological movement's fault for pushing the first term so much in the past though.

Btw. When NA was freezing, it was the warmest "winter" in years in Europe. Only saw temperatures drop below 0°C once or so. Most of the time it was hot enough to walk around in your shirt while indoors and with a thin sweater outdoors.

I'm in Canada. It's cold here a lot of the time. Climate Change is a more effective term here because even knowing that it's probably the greatest danger we face right now as a species, I wouldn't mind things being warmer. Climate Change, however, conjures up more accurate interpretations of things, such as 'It's late May and I've only just stopped wearing sweaters, this is not normal'.

Seriously though, it worries me. I don't know enough of the statistics, but I do know that we don't fix a thing until it's well and truly broken, and if we keep going until we break the environment, there's a not-insignificant chance that we'll be completely screwed - like, say, if ocean conditions deteriorate enough that plankton start dying off, and the majority of the planet's oxygen supply goes up in smoke, that kind of thing.

Given how many countries we have, the idea of enough of them getting their shit together seems a little much to hope for, so a more optimistic hope is that something bad, but not end-of-game bad happens, like the poles melting enough that sea levels rise and coastal cities start going underwater. I've really got to see Venice sooner rather than later.

TopazFusion:
And here I thought the reason scientists preferred to call it 'climate change' instead of 'global warming' was to stop comments like:

"hur dur, we're getting record low temperatures? where's your global warming now, scientists?"

Actually it was because the nature of the change varied based on you geographic location. Also weather and climnate are funny things in that it's very hard predict what the end result will be.

But there is some basis for this semantic. Global Warming has always been seen as a 'Manmade event' 'Climate Change' on the other hand can be either manmade or natural. Climate cycles do occur and they do run over decades if not centuries.,

Als OP... I've never fooled myself about where my meat comes from. Wringing a chicken's neck has never stopped me from enjoying a chicken sandwich.

Just from personal experience here in the UK, Climate Change is something people are more willing to believe than Global Warming.

Simply because it's hard to grasp global warming when it is pouring down with rain and freezing most of the damn time.

TopazFusion:
And here I thought the reason scientists preferred to call it 'climate change' instead of 'global warming' was to stop comments like:

"hur dur, we're getting record low temperatures? where's your global warming now, scientists?"

The problem is that many Americans got the bulk of their grounding in the "Inconvenient truth" era of climate change when the U.S. news outlets were really pushing "Global warming" as a boogyman. As climate science has become more complex and the effects on interconnected systems has come to the forefront the phrase has been phased out because of the Fox News style misconceptions and disingenuous reporting that has come along with simple perception of temperature.

It's pretty disheartening that as the facts and reliability of climate science has improved and they have been able to produce detailed , more reliable findings that this step up in evidence/ complexity level has meant many people have simply stopped absorbing information. It seems the endless questions from skeptics has produced a lot of answers, but those more technical, scientific answers simply wash over the vast majority of people and news outlets.

It kind of reminds me of the evolution 'debate'. The more technical and irrefutable your answers become the more you realize that many people are intellectually incapable of grasping the answers to their doubts.

I thought this was old news, I've heard there was some lobbying done to try to make "climate change" the prevalent term because of its more neutral tone.

Ironical, because in some ways it is more accurate - although the average temperature of the earth is rising, some areas will probably be getting colder due to changing wind and water currents. Doesn't make the global effects of climate change/global warming any better though.

Global Warming was the praise used in 90's kids shows focused on the environment, over and over again.

Run this test again in about 10-20 years, average Americans will suddenly feel more strongly about "Climate Change" because the next generation has had that praise hammered into their head while watching Nickelodeon.

"Funnily enough, the same trick apparently works when it comes to global warming. Or should I say climate change? According to a recent study at Yale, using one phrase or the other can have a deep effect on how Americans specifically view what is literally the same problem."

Sure, Climatologists may be referring to the same process by using Climate Change and Global Warming interchangeably... but given how prevalent the topic is, it's not just climatologists, but also politicians, the media and laymen who discuss the topic. For the vast majority of these people, Climate Change is the worse, more frustrating term; it's a catch-all, because climate is always changing (How is it changing? Where is it changing? On what time scale is it changing?), even without human intervention- and thus it cannot be proven to be wrong in normal conversation, even if we were not contributing to this change at all, or for past periods of time when we were definitely not affecting the climate noticeably. But it is also frustrating for those who are deeply concerned with the issue, as the name Climate Change fails to convey the subject of their worries effectively.

For Climatologists, Climate Change may be fine as a term, but for everyone else, I consider it to be toxic to discussion and understanding, and I hope people stop using it.

Although the thought of 'repackaging' science to reach the widest audience worries me, the same is true for almost everything else in life so... let's really shake them up, call it DOOM STORMS OR COMMUNIST GAS BUILD UP!!!

TopazFusion:
And here I thought the reason scientists preferred to call it 'climate change' instead of 'global warming' was to stop comments like:

"hur dur, we're getting record low temperatures? where's your global warming now, scientists?"

Basically 'climate change' is a generalisation of what's going on - the overall effect. There are many other different terms such as 'global dimming', 'Global cooling' and so forth that can effect the change of climate.

Or at least that's how I see things. All these different terminologies is starting to get confusing.

Kuala BangoDango:
No surprise to those study results. Nothing we didn't basically already know.

We ARE talking about the same country whose citizens were easily fooled by rewording such as "not tor-ture but enhanced inter-rogation", "not civilian cas-ualties but en-emy comb-atants", "not corporate welfare but subsidies" as well as some of the more recent situations of the rich not being held liable for crim-inal acts because they're "suffering from Affluenza".

What country are you talking about? Here in the United States none of the news organizations I listen to ever reworded those topics.

Theres a difference? News to me.

ColaWarVeteran:

Kuala BangoDango:
No surprise to those study results. Nothing we didn't basically already know.

We ARE talking about the same country whose citizens were easily fooled by rewording such as "not tor-ture but enhanced inter-rogation", "not civilian cas-ualties but en-emy comb-atants", "not corporate welfare but subsidies" as well as some of the more recent situations of the rich not being held liable for crim-inal acts because they're "suffering from Affluenza".

What country are you talking about? Here in the United States none of the news organizations I listen to ever reworded those topics.

I never said the News people changed the terms, though they certainly help push them along. The government (with the help of PR groups or whatnot) changed most of them while lawyers (always willing to throw in confusing terminology to trick people into seeing their way) did some more...such as the "Affluenza" term.

Those terms do not mean the same thing.

Global warming: the increase in Earth's average surface temperature due to rising levels of greenhouse gases.

Climate change: a long-term change in the Earth's climate, or of a region on Earth.

They are interchangeable only insomuch as global Warming is one of the primary causes of man made climate change and therefore both are on topic when discussing the actions we must take to minimize our global warming.

People freaking out about the weather is a product of human short-sightedness due to a small life span. They are afraid when things change from "the way they have always been", but they way they have always been in the short life of our species matters little to a 4.5 billion year old planet. The entire history of our species is a footnote in earths history.

 

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