Farmers in Africa’s Sahel region have planted trees on 5 million hectares of degraded land, since 1975
"How we frame the climate conversation matters --- it matters a lot." Andrew Guzman on NPR Radio
More non-profit environmental groups, media, NGO's, corporations and governments are beginning to abandon the terms global warming and climate change for the new terms climate cliff, climate destabilization, catastrophic climate destabilization irreversible climate destabilization and extinction level climate destabilization. They are doing so for many reasons.
The term climate change is so vague it conveys almost nothing of the real importance of the runaway climate change and the current climate crisis. The climate is always changing in our daily experience of our weather --- so what is the big deal or importance of another discussion about something that seems so innocent as climate change!
The term global warming has been confusing to the general public's personal experience of the ever-changing global weather. Global warming is also not accurate enough to describe the current climate conditions that humanity now faces since the idea of global warming was first introduced to the public in the 1970's.
Global warming leads the average person to believe that the whole world will be getting warmer consistently. Yet, as the average temperature of the planet increases, certain places will actually become colder. Some places may become warmer, it's true, but the problem is not just that our air conditioning costs will rise. Because of other natural climate factors, some years it will be warmer and there will be worse storms and some years less, but in spite of this inconsistency the climate destabilization trend will be toward warmer temperatures and more extreme storms.
We'll also be dealing with more destructive, frequent and far more severe storms, which will take new drainage pathways never seen before. Sudden and extreme flooding will increase in certain places while intensifying drought, wildfires and desertification will be the issue in others. We will also be dealing with rising sea levels (possibly up to 2 to as many as 8 meters before the end of the century,) and storm surges from that rise in sea level like the planet has not seen in tens of thousands of years.
The climate cliff, climate destabilization, catastrophic climate destabilization, irreversible and extinction level climate destabilization are the new terms of art because they are far more accurate and useful in reflecting what is already happening or what will continue to happen with increasing severity, scale and frequency --- unless we take effective planet-wide action immediately! (Extinction level here is defined as the projected potential extinction of approximately half or more of the species on earth and most [60-90%,] if not all, of humanity. Irreversible whenever used is defined as severe climate destabilization consequences that could take hundreds or even thousands of years to correct or re-balance or never correct or re-balance.)
Destabilization is more accurate term because the global climate is being destabilized from a relatively stable post ice age state toward a much hotter state resembling a much hotter state from far earlier in the planet's fiery evolution. Destabilization is also reflective of what will happen to our economic, political and social systems as increasing human caused carbon pollution accelerates climate destabilization.
If we do not take action and solve this challenge, climate destabilization or catastrophic, irreversible or extinction level climate destabilization are the perfect terms for describing what will probably lead to the eventual catastrophic reduction or extinction of the human population from almost 8 billion to several hundred million people forced to live near the poles.
The terms climate destabilization or catastrophic, irreversible and extinction level climate destabilization also convey the true urgency of the situation every time you use them. They re-frame and redefine the climate discussion toward the real problems and rapidly escalating catastrophic consequences of the issue rather than toward vague or misleading descriptions of the ambiguity of the issue.
If your a farmer, and you lose your annual crop to a climate destabilization caused drought that's a catastrophe with urgency! If your a home owner, and you lose your home to climate destabilization caused floods or wildfires that's a catastrophe with real urgency! If your a consumer and your food prices keep going up because of climate destabilization caused droughts and shortages and you cannot afford enough food to eat --- that's an urgent serious potential extinction problem and at the least a catastrophe in the making for billions of individual people --- just like you and I.
If climate destabilization goes out of control to its potential projected maximums and 7.8 billion people die, that is the ultimate catastrophe. It will be the extinction or near extinction of the human species and many other species that will go with us. This is growing loss of species is already being called the sixth great mass extinction event.
Bringing up the subject of the climate cliff and catastrophic or irreversible climate destabilization with others also engenders a whole new level of reaction and engagement. It sounds bad --- is bad and, can convincingly be argued that it is the most important single issue related to our species' survival or our descending environmental quality of life in the 21 st century.
Simply put, resolving the climate cliff and climate destabilization has become the single most important task in all of human history. Continuing to use the older, confusing or vague terms such as global warming or climate change hides the real consequence issues and the criticalness of the problem to all of humanity.
"The greatest fear for the future of humanity is the still unknown critical tipping points involved in today's accelerating catastrophic climate destabilization. Without discovering these quickly, we could find ourselves facing complete extinction as a species without even knowing that we had passed the climate tipping points of no return (or reasonable recovery,) until it was too late to do anything about it. No other fear or human problem today matches the destructive scope, probability and immediacy of this climate destabilization challenge.
Catastrophic, Irreversible and Extinction Level Climate Destabilization should be thought of in the same scope of potential global destructiveness as a massive asteroid on a direct, certain and imminent collision course with earth. You certainly would not sit idle in that situation without demanding more and better information from your leaders on arrival dates, consequences and necessary preparations. Why aren't we collectively doing this now for catastrophic climate destabilization?" Lawrence Wollersheim
Please stop using the confusing, misleading and non-specific terms global warming and climate change and start using climate cliff, climate destabilization or catastrophic, irreversible or extinction level climate destabilization and watch what happens. From an evolutionary perspective, we have not evolved to adapt effectively to non-specific and vague treats to our survival. We need to communicate a real and specific danger to best mobilize our common adaptation abilities to resolve the climate cliff and climate destabilization challenges.
The older non-specific, confusing and misleading global warming and climate change conversation has been going on for over 30 years with little success. Please encourage individuals and organizations to help change the climate conversation by using more specific, accurate and the more useful terms climate cliff, climate destabilization, catastrophic climate destabilization and irreversible or extinction level climate destabilization.
This is something simple and easy that everyone of us can do. This long overdue, appropriate and more accurate re-framing of this issue alone will do a tremendous amount to move us closer to its resolution. Or as the Buddhists might say "right speech (words,) leads to right action."
To learn more about what the key things that we need to do to effectively reverse cataclysmic climate destabilization, click here.
*The term climate destabilization appears to have been first used by Greg Craven in his book, What's the Worst that Could Happen? A rational response to the climate change debate.