Climate Communication can be dicey water as the discourse summons political affiliation, scientific distrust and self interest from deniers. One semantic misstep and a climate communicator is liable to windup in the hot seat. Making it imperative for climate leaders to choose their words wisely.
It has been said before, but it bares repeating: people do not react well to the term 'global warming.'
In what may only be categorized as a social phenomenon, climate deniers (despite their rejection of scientific findings) demand that climate communication be scientifically consistent. While I'm not going to debate the scientific merit of the term 'global warming,' I am going to say that according to Cornell University, people generally do not respond well to it, favoring 'climate change' instead.
Stop someone on the street in the storm-battered Northeast (or Northwest or just about anywhere in between) this winter. Ask about “global warming” and you’d better be prepared for a heated debate. Ask about “climate change” and cooler heads may prevail.
The American public responds differently to questions about “climate change” and “global warming” – even while the media often conflate the two – a new study by Cornell and University of Southern California researchers reveals.
“A key finding is that the public perceives more scientific agreement on the issue of ‘climate change’ than ‘global warming,’” reports Cornell’s Jonathon Schuldt, who led the study examining a survey of 2,000 American adults from the comfort of his Department of Communication office (not from a snow-covered street corner). “Recent studies suggest that perceiving a scientific consensus is an important predictor of people’s support for new regulations that address the problem.”