Warming What?

Friday 30th May 2014

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet.” So says Juliet in Act II Scene II of Romeo and Juliet. It may not be a name, but the same can apply to a phrase - does it make a difference if we use the term ‘Climate Change’ or ‘Global Warming’?

Researchers at Yale have been studying this very concept. The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication researchers have been studying the two ‘terms’ for human induced climate warming as it is perceived by Americans.

They discovered that the phrase ‘global warming’ seems to be understood by the greater public, with more emotional attachment and feelings for national and personal action than the term ‘climate change’ - although this latter term is the one generally used by scientists.

The two phrases would appear synonymous, but this study shows that they can mean different things to a variety of individuals, with global warming being the term of record for the US lay population.

To quote the researchers:

We found that the term "global warming" is associated with greater public understanding, emotional engagement, and support for personal and national action than the term "climate change."

For example, the term “global warming” is associated with:

  • Greater certainty that the phenomenon is happening, especially among men, Generation X (31-48), and liberals;
  • Greater understanding that human activities are the primary cause among Independents;
  • Greater understanding that there is a scientific consensus about the reality of the phenomenon among Independents and liberals;
  • More intense worry about the issue, especially among men, Generation Y (18-30), Generation X, Democrats, liberals and moderates;
  • A greater sense of personal threat, especially among women, the Greatest Generation (68+), African-Americans, Hispanics, Democrats, Independents, Republicans, liberals and moderates;
  • Higher issue priority ratings for action by the president and Congress, especially among women, Democrats, liberals and moderates;
  • Greater willingness to join a campaign to convince elected officials to take action, especially among men, Generation X, liberals and moderates.

Our findings strongly suggest that the terms global warming and climate change are used differently and mean different things in the minds of many Americans. The following graphic shows how the two terms elicit different meanings for Americans.

So a 'name' or 'phrase' may appear to mean little, or the same, but research shows that isn't necessarily the case - so 'global warming' maybe the best term to use!

Read more here.

Categories: General, Reviews

Friday 30th May 2014

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