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Let’s Update Our Language Around Climate Change | The Bold Italic – thebolditalic

There are two behavioral qualities that separate us perhaps more from other sentient beings on this planet: our capacity to make and wield complex tools, and human language (which, unlike any other observed animal, includes the use of both a signifier and signified). People have rhetoric around common household goods. We can communicate the difference between a want and a need. The conversations we carry out with one another — be it through text or phone or email or over Zoom — can convey a sense of arbitrariness. Our words matter.

And the common language we’ve built around climate change needs to… well, change to convey a sense of urgency and accountability.

We have no other celestial home to flee to. This is our last gasp before the plunge; to alter our habits and hold ourselves accountable for this hellscape we’ve created.

The climate has already altered for the worse. (Understand that reality, hold it in your head, heart, hands for what it is.) The next five or ten years will merely determine if we collectively settle for widespread chaos or choose earth-shattering dystopias.

When we hear phrases like “animal extinction,” “deforestation,” “global warming,” and “carbon footprints,” we understand their connotations; we can also loosely conclude that they all exist as elements of climate change. But what those utterances lack is a level of blatant accountability — particularly as they relate to us humans.

Climate change is no longer a relevant descriptor for what the planet is going through.

At least 30% of Borneo’s rainforest has been destroyed over the past forty years due to fires, industrial logging, and the spread of mono-crop plantations. No other creature on the world’s third-largest island has created such destruction on it. Only us humans have; this, alas, is an example of “human-facilitated deforestation.”

Floral and faunal extinctions are a naturally occurring part of the planet’s ecosystems. But what’s presently unnatural is the pace at which they’re occurring across the planet — a gallon of gasoline poured onto a previously controlled smoldering bonfire. The planet’s once biodiverse sanctuaries are disappearing quicker than vaquitas. The Anthropocene — and geological epoch denoting a time marked by mass extinctions caused by human activity — as it’s called in scientific circles, solely rest on our shoulders; this is the result of hundreds of “human-caused extinctions.”

Let’s get clear on the language around the climate crisis — and hold ourselves accountable for this thawing shitshow we’re all now roasting in.

Terms like “global warming” and “carbon footprints” are decades-old expressions, the latter locution even having roots in public relations campaigns from fossil fuel companies. Since their first uses, the planet’s warmed by up to 1° Fahrenheit over the past 40 years — on an uncomfortably foreseen pace previously forecasted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels (which largely have come from just a hundred companies) have risen at a rate of 2.5 ± 0.1 ppm over the past decade, an almost four-fold multiplier since the 1960s. And as of April 2021, we’re now firmly in a post 415ppm carbon dioxide world; this is the result of “human-induced carbon releases.”

Climate change is no longer a relevant descriptor for what the planet is going through. Orange groves and ocean waters, familiar panoramas that exist as figments of past healthier iterations, have forever been altered by human activity. Everything we hold near and dear is at risk of slipping through our fingers. Why? Because we still struggle to see this environmental emergency for what it is: a climate crisis.”

We have no other celestial home to flee to. This is our last gasp before the plunge; to alter our habits and hold ourselves accountable for this hellscape we’ve created.

Yes: In the large scheme of things, it may seem myopic to fixate so strongly on language around accountability regarding the climate crisis. But again, we’re humans — the tool-building, story-telling dominant species on this 4.543-billion-year-old space rock. Again: Our words matter… and are one of our more underrated tools in the fight for our planet’s well-being.

Let’s get clear on the language around the climate crisis — and hold ourselves accountable for this thawing shitshow we’re all now roasting in.

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