Words for a Cause

Many of the most popular causes in the world have a word problem. In particular, I wonder if proponents of global climate change would face less resistance if the words global warming had never been associated with their cause. This post isn’t about the validity of the cause but rather what’s happening because of the words associated with it.

For instance, it’s April 13 and there’s still several inches of snow on the ground where I live. Spring has been colder than previous years by several degrees, delaying planting in my farming community and increasing comments about how the global warming people must have got it wrong. For the world as a whole, the words global warming fail to entirely explain what’s happening, making it easy for opponents to push back.

Ultimately, it becomes a question of accuracy and the ability for words to remain flexible. Perhaps these two goals seem contradictory, but I believe that the most accurate words leave room for day-to-day realities and allow causes to gain authority. What would happen if the words global warming were no longer relied on to describe climate events around the world? What if proponents only used global climate change? Isn’t easier to defend such a position versus the too narrow definition of global warming?

One can argue that if the words are too broad their impact is lessened. Again, it comes back to a question of accuracy. It also becomes an issue of whether one is willing to take the necessary time to find the best words. How many causes, products, service, etc., do you know would benefit from using different words?


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April 2008
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