If we want to stop the climate breakdown, we need new words to communicate it

Your moment

California is experiencing one of the most destructive wildfire seasons on record.

Among the many different factors that led to it, several experts agree that climate change also played a role. Moreover, a major climate assessment by the US government reports that "projected climate changes suggest that western forests in the United States will be increasingly affected by large and intense fires that will occur more frequently."

In other words, we need to act, and we need to act fast. As an editor, I don't have any scientific expertise to offer regarding possible solutions to the climate breakdown. I can just read as many reliable scientific reports as possible.

However, as a communication professional, I can suggest that we need to find new, more effective ways to communicate what's happening to our planet.

George Monbiot (Credit: monbiot.com)

In this regard, I recently came across a 2017 column written for The Guardian by environmentalist writer George Monbiot. There, Monbiot argued that "language is crucial to how we perceive the natural world" and that finding better ways of describing nature and our relationships with it means finding better ways to defend it.

Doing some research, I then found out that the Facebook page Solarpunk Anarchist posted a visual summary of George Monbiot's list of alternative terms.

We decided to make a similar summary ourselves and to create some new visual material to support Monbiot's new vocabulary.

Here's our summary:

And here's some additional images:

Global warming vs. Global heating

If you live in a cold climate, "global warming" might even sound appealing. "Global heating" is a better reminder of the potential, destructive consequences that climate breakdown will trigger.

  • Fish stock vs fish population

The term "stock" brings to mind a disposable commodity rather than a living population of animals.

  • Extinction vs Annihilation

As George Monbiot writes "the term 'extinction' conveys no sense of our role in the extermination, and mixes up this eradication with the natural turnover of species. It’s like calling murder "expiration". 

If you want to know more terms of George Monbiot's new environmentalist vocabulary follow us on Instagram: @join_kinder_world

More Stories