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You can’t call climate change a “crisis” if you don’t think so

You can’t call climate change a “crisis” if you don’t think so

Two Tweets by the Associated Press side by side

The way people talk to our planet’s overheating has changed dramatically. Bland, neutral-sounding phrases like Global warmingare out; evocative phrases like Krise EmergenciesYou are in. Some activists argue that a more urgent language will make people aware that climate change has already begun, prompting them into a quicker effort to reduce greenhouse gas emission. As an opinion piece in the Guardian once put it: “Our planet is in crisis. But until we call it a crisis, no one will listen.”

However, new research casts doubt on this assumption. A studyThe first study to examine the effects on using was published in Climatic Change, a journal that has just been published. Climate crisis climate emergency. It reported that reading these phrases “did not have any effect on public engagement,” measured in terms of whether the words had altered people’s emotions, their support for climate policy, or their belief that action could make a difference.

“We were pretty surprised that the terminology has such minimal effects,” said Lauren Feldman, a professor of media studies at Rutgers University and a coauthor of the study. Researchers discovered that the stronger language backfired in one instance: News organizations using a stronger phrasing. climate emergencyIt was perceived as less trustworthy, possibly because it could sound alarmist.

Feldman stated that journalists and climate activists might get too focused on the details when the larger picture is more important. It is the subject that makes an article resonate more than its content. People feel more optimistic when news stories focus on action. People are more likely to accept solutions that are presented in articles. A recent piece by the New York TimesThis article explains how Carmel’s Republican mayor, Indiana, constructed 140 roundabouts to reduce carbon emissions.

People are turned off by news about disasters. “Focusing on the threat and negative impacts and the political conflicts surrounding climate change can be very immobilizing,” Feldman said. It’s worth noting, though, that behavior is complicated, and neither hope nor fear consistently inspire people to actClimate change.

There’s been a lot of thinking behind what to call the chaotic shifts unfolding on our planet. Scientists prefer to call them “chaotic shifts”. Climate changeOver Global warming because it captures a broader picture of what’s happening — not just hotter temperatures, but also changes in flooding, wind patterns, the oceans, and more. Conservative strategistsThe phrase was also a favorite because it sounded less frightening than the others. Global warming. However, scientists and activists thought that both expressions sounded hollow understatements. They adopted a more colorful language, such as climate chaos Global weirding. The Guardian caused a stir in 2019, when it published announcedIt would be dropping. Climate change for more “accurate” language: climate emergency, Krise, or Breakdown

Two Tweets by the Associated Press side by side
Fake tweets were used in the study. “Climate emergency” was replaced with “climate change” or “climate crisis” for some participants. Grist/ Climatic Change

The phrase Climate crisis started popping up everywhere — headlines, TED talks, and in the U.S. Congress — and has recently strengthened its foothold, making it into the Oxford English Dictionary last month. The push behind climate emergencyProponents of declaring a climate emergency have taken a slightly different route. About 2,000Cities, town councils, as well as countries around the globe, have already done this.

At least two studies have been done in the past that raised questions about this. Climate crisisIt might not be working as expected. Researchers found that college students read a passage about the topic and were more likely to remember it than those who didn’t. Climate crisisThe following was reported: lowest levels of concernThe overheating planet. climate disruptionThe most responses. Researchers compared the effects of the terms in 2020. Climate crisis Climate changeTaiwanese people found that the crisis framing was not working. backfiredAmong those with a conservative outlook. Feldman’s research didn’t find any of these effects.

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The new study was conducted last year and aimed to show how people get their news these day. People read blurbs on social networks but rarely click through to the entire article. Feldman and a communication researcher from the University of Michigan rounded up more than 2,300 people online and showed them short news posts on Twitter — fake examples that swapped out the phrases Climate crisis, climate emergency, or the old standby Climate changeSome of the tweets referred to threats (wildfires, health concerns), while others addressed responses (young people protesting and states announcing climate plans). After reading the tweets, participants were asked how they felt about climate change, the media, climate policies and their support.

The study offers a couple of reasons why the exact terminology didn’t end up mattering much. For starters, the tweets were short — longer exposure to these terms could make more of a difference. These phrases may also be becoming more common, losing their surprise factor. One reportIt was found that Climate crisisThis year, it was 20 times more frequent than in 2018, and that climate emergency The same period saw a 76-fold increase in the number of cases. “It could just be that people aren’t noticing it, right?” Feldman said. “They’re just kind of lumping these different terms all together.”

These results, Feldman says, shouldn’t be taken to mean that anybody should stop saying climate emergencySimilar terms. The words alone may be unlikely to prompt someone to get behind rapid climate action, but “that doesn’t mean that they’re not important in other ways,” Feldman said. She sees the new terminology as reflecting a wider shift: Journalists and politicians are all discussing climate change as something worthy of immediate attention.




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