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

| 28 May 2014 04:30

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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