They would love to use the term “global warming” but there’s one big problem, there hasn’t been any global temperature growth for the last 17 years.
Barack Obama, scientists and campaigners have all looked at how to engage Americans more powerfully on the environment. Now researchers have come up with one critical piece of advice: do say “global warming”, don’t say “climate change”.
New research released on Tuesday found Americans care more deeply when the term “global warming” is used to describe the major environmental challenge. “Climate change”, in contrast, leaves them relatively cold.
The two terms are often used interchangeably but they generate very different responses, the researchers from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communications and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communications said.
“Those two terms get heard and interpreted in very different ways,” Anthony Leiserowitz, a research scientist at Yale and one of the lead authors, told The Guardian. “The choice of these two terms really does matter, depending on who you are talking to.”
The term “global warming” resonates far more powerfully, triggering images of ice melt, extreme weather and catastrophe. Mention “climate change”, however, and many Americans begin to disengage, the researchers found.
The researchers found naming the issue as “global warming” rather than climate change made it easier to connect. Americans in general were 13% more likely to say that global warming was a bad thing.