Changing climate change communication

A. Henderson-Sellers

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


    I analyse the jargonized climate change language used in very common material including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC's) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), recent economic policy papers (Stern, The economics of climate change, 2006 and Garnaut, Garnaut climate change review, 2008), government responses, and the full set of abstracts for the Climate Congress held in Copenhagen in March 2009. Despite the best efforts of experts who try explain messages of climate action urgency, the fact of climate change seems to still suffer from a credibility shortfall. At least part of this problem are the climate change communication "code words" as described by Hassol, Eos 89(11):106, 2008. She explains that words such as "anthropogenic, "bias, "debate, "enhance, "positive" (as in positive feedback and trend), and, perhaps most dangerous of all, "theory" have common language meanings very different from their climate change meaning. She says that terms that now seem perfectly reasonable to global change scientists are still jargon in the wider world and always have simpler substitutes. For example few people say "spatial" and "temporal," they say "space" and "time". Surely, in day-to-day speech, people say "caused by us (or people)" rather than anthropogenic. The very terminology we have developed to talk about this diabolical challenge for humanity may be slowing down our ability to galvanize the actions so urgently required.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Economic, social and political elements of climate change
    EditorsWalter Leal Filho
    Place of PublicationBerlin ; New York
    PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Print)9783642147753
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventOnline Climate Change Conference (2nd : 2009) - Hamburg, Germany
    Duration: 2 Nov 20096 Nov 2009

    Publication series

    NameClimate change management
    ISSN (Print)1610-2010


    ConferenceOnline Climate Change Conference (2nd : 2009)
    CityHamburg, Germany


    • Anthropogenic
    • Climate change
    • Code
    • Communication
    • Garnaut
    • IPCC
    • Stern
    • Terminology
    • Theory


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