Thursday, October 12, 2023

#285 / A Mark Twain Lesson


That is a picture of Lahaina, Maui, above. I got this picture from an article written by Tiffany Hsu, published in the August 31, 2023, edition of The New York Times. Hsu titled her article, "After Summer's Natural Disasters, Cue the Climate Conspiracies." That title comes from the "hard copy" version of the newspaper. Here is how Hsu begins her article: 

As natural disasters and extreme environmental conditions became more commonplace around the world this summer, scientists pointed repeatedly to a shared driver: climate change. 
Conspiracy theorists pointed to anything but.

I think Hsu's article is fine - it's worth reading if you can penetrate The Times' paywall. However, I am not commenting, here, on Hsu's description of how conspiracy theorists are diverting our attention from what we are actually doing wrong, and are thereby making things worse. That's true, but I want to focus on something else.

I am taking this occasion (stimulated by Hsu's reporting) to denounce the use of the phrase, "climate change," as a description of the "cause," or the "driver," of the various events and occurences that are ever more frequently putting local communities in danger, or (as in the case of Lahaina) virtually wiping them out. I am, by the way, not the only one who objects to the description of the global emergency we face as "climate change." Kirpatrick Sale, writing in Counterpunch calls that language a "dangerous contrivance." 

PLEASE do not use the term "climate change" to refer to the cause of the events that we see occurring all around the world. The correct term is "global warming." That is what is causing the problems that we see documented all too frequently on the news, or in our mornoing newspapers. Human actions are causing the world to get hotter. "Climate change" is the "result," not the "cause," of our problems.

Mark Twain is popularly associated with the expression, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” "Weather" and "climate" are similar words; they refer to the same thing. Like talking about the "weather," everybody is talking about "climate change." And.... nobody is doing anything about it, pretty much. 

That should (and must) change. 

Maybe there is a chance that we will actually "do something about it" if we correctly understand what has gone wrong - what's causing the problems. The problems aren't "caused" by the fact that our climate is "changing." The fact that our climate is chaning is "caused" by the fact that human actions are now heating up the entire globe. 

If we don't want more burned down cities, more city-destroying floods and hurricanes, more species going extinct, then we need to do something. So, let's be clear what we need to do. 

We need to take actions that will stop our human activities from warming up the world. The cause of our problems is "global warming," which has, of course, changed our climate. 

But the change we can see in climatic conditions, and all the impacts that go along with those changes that we see, are the result of what we have been doing, and continue to be doing, to warm up our planet. 

Mainly, we need to stop burning hydrocarbon fuels. Burning hydrocarbon fuels heats up the planet, and "global warming" is what happens when we do that, and "global warming" is causing the climate changes that are putting human communities in danger. 

PLEASE do not use the term "climate change" to refer to the cause of the events that we see occurring all around the world. Human actions are causing the world to get hotter. "Climate change" is the result, not the "cause," and what we need to combat is "global warming." 

How we use language is important, and we should not be allowing ourselves to use language that helps us dodge our responsibility. If we start thinking that the "problem" is the fact that our weather is changing, we're not going to do anything about it. 

Mark Twain was right about that!

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