Is it Time to Rename Global Warming? The Case for 'Global Weirding'


Closer to what I think of when I think of Global Weirding. Image via Milaraki

Global warming. Climate change. Global climate change. 'Our deteriorating atmosphere.' 'Hell and high water'. These are all labels that have been thrown at the scientifically observed phenomenon of global temperatures rising in concert with increased greenhouse gas emissions. Problem is, nobody can agree on which term is most accurate or most effective. The first two are obviously the most popular, and most agreed upon. But today, in his column, Thomas Friedman argues that it's time to instate a new term: Global Weirding.
What's in a Name?
Here's his argument:

I prefer the term "global weirding," because that is what actually happens as global temperatures rise and the climate changes. The weather gets weird. The hots are expected to get hotter, the wets wetter, the dries drier and the most violent storms more numerous.

The fact that it has snowed like crazy in Washington -- while it has rained at the Winter Olympics in Canada, while Australia is having a record 13-year drought -- is right in line with what every major study on climate change predicts: The weather will get weird; some areas will get more precipitation than ever; others will become drier than ever.

Behind 'Global Warming'
He is right in that the term 'global warming' seems to open itself up for easy (if totally misguided) criticism and confusion every time the weather isn't warm. We've seen it time and again this winter from the lamebrained newscasters at Fox News like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, from politicians like Sen. Demint and Inhofe, even from Donald Trump. Since it's cold outside of their homes, global warming can't be occurring. Friedman argues this undermines the ability for comprehension of the science behind global warming to be grasped.

Behind 'Climate Change'
And that is in fact why some argued in favor of using the term 'Climate Change'--which is technically more accurate. But it's also more ignorable--and that can play right into the hands of the foes of climate action, like coal and oil industries and the politicians they support. As Joe Romm notes, the GOP spinmaster Frank Luntz wrote in his now-famous memo strategizing how to delay climate action:

It's time for us to start talking about "climate change" instead of global warming and "conservation" instead of preservation.1) "Climate change" is less frightening than "global warming". As one focus group participant noted, climate change "sounds like you're going from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale." While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge.
And climate change may indeed leave too many people unaware of the problem's severity.

And Now, Presenting . . . 'Global Weirding'?
Which is why Friedman seems to prefer 'Global Weirding.' That term seems to occupy the mid-zone between too benign and too easily misinterpreted. But Romm doesn't seem to like it:

Personally, I've never been thrilled with the term "global weirding," mainly because "weirding" carries the connotation of "related to the supernatural" -- with the origin of the word "weird" being "Middle English werde, fate, having power to control fate, from Old English wyrd, fate." There is nothing supernatural about what's going on, and we don't need any supernatural powers to control our fate. Still, some people are using the phrase -- and what's happening does appear weird.
I'd tend to side with Joe on that one--'weirding' makes it too easy to lump those who'd discuss it into belonging to some sort of a fringe movement. It suffers from still being too general and sounding too unscientific, in my opinion. Then again, I haven't exactly come up with a better term . . . any thoughts?

More on Global Warming er, Weirding?
Global Weirding : Frost Damage Casts Long Shadow
The Global Climate : Yes, It's Still Warming
The Facts About Global Warming Denial

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