Words That (Don’t) Matter: An Exploratory Study of Four Climate Change Names in Environmental Discourse

Research
TitleWords That (Don’t) Matter: An Exploratory Study of Four Climate Change Names in Environmental Discourse
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsJaskulsky, L, Besel, R
JournalApplied Environmental Education & Communication
Volume12
Issue1
Pagination38 - 45
Date Published2013/01/01/
ISBN Number1533-015X
AbstractMost Americans are familiar with the term “global warming.” However, three other possible phrases—“climate change,” “climate crisis,” and “climatic disruption”—have been championed by different influential advocates. To date, no studies have assessed the effects these four names might have on an audience. Recognizing the scientific importance of this subject, we conducted an exploratory experiment (N = 225) to determine if a chosen name affected beliefs related to changes in the Earth's temperature. Based on our initial investigation we conclude that (a) there is little evidence to support the notion that “climate crisis” is the ideal term to be used, (b) “climate crisis” performed the worst of all terms because it, surprisingly, led to observable backlash effects of disbelief and reduced perceptions of concern, and (c) “climatic disruption” performed the best in each of the areas where we found statistically significant differences. Because this is an initial study, directions for future research are also discussed.
URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1533015X.2013.795836