What's in a name? Does the phrase "climate change" adequately convey the devastating consequences of human-caused changes to our planet's climate? This guest op-ed argues that it does not and that people concerned about the changes underway need to make clear that they are not "beneficial," as claimed for more than a decade by the American Legislative Exchange Council and the experts it uses to urge lawmakers to block environmental protections, but that these changes are disastrous or ruinous.
"I thought I liked that the USA is now number one in oil and gas, but hey, I don't want to ruin the climate...."
That's the reaction we will get when we rebrand from "Global Warming" and "Climate Change" to "Climate Ruin."
"Global Warming" sounds like a nice respite on a cold winter's evening.
"Climate Change" is the lukewarm term that rightwing spin maestro Frank Luntz understood would water down concerns about the warming of the planet, as first exposed by Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian, and Luntz succeeded in making it stick.
It's about time we return the favor.
We need WWII-scale actions to transform our energy systems because energy "business as usual" will destroy our society.
The terms "Climate Change" or "Global Warming," or even "Climate Crisis" or "Climate Disruption" do not conjure the urgency to get up and go do something about it.
The term "Climate Ruin" is much closer to the truth, and much more effective.
A journalist writing an article about America producing more oil and gas than Saudi Arabia might mention that all this new gas and oil will guarantee more "Climate Change," but its easy to shrug that off.
However, if that article mentions that burning all that new American gas and oil guarantees "Climate Ruin," that can't just be swept under the rug, because people will fight to avoid a future where they are forced to abandon their homes and find a new place to try to survive.
A guarantee of a change, warming, or crisis has very little impact on people, but guaranteeing a ruined world will not be accepted.
The media repeating "Climate Ruin," as much as they now repeat "Climate Change" and "Global Warming," will lead to action.
It is sad but true that continuing on our current path with business conducted as usual will ruin the lives of your kids because their climate will be ruined. That message has the kind of impact we need to win this fight.
The term "Climate Ruin" delivers that message. Let's rebrand now.