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Language Matters Around Problems

By Danny Harrington, MD ITS Education Asia

For a long time, as a Geography teacher, I have emphasized to students the need to be careful around language and the climate crisis is a perfect example. For me, the science has proven the anthropomorphic influence on climate for a long time. But at the beginning, people were still debating it and this was playing out for most people in the media where the science and the arguments had gone through the wringer of the journalistic process. The media is a fantastic source of information but students mustn’t forget that in the end the editorial responsibility is maximizing eyeballs and nothing else. Thus, the early years saw the climate crisis described as the greenhouse effect and that terrible metaphor was used in a negative way. Without the “greenhouse effect” there would be no life on earth so we can see how quickly that went wrong.

Then this shifted to global warming, which has a nice fuzzy feel to it, especially if you live in colder climes. Finally we saw climate change being used and now this is emphasized by more appropriate terms such as global heating and climate crisis which better reflect our situation. So make sure you use the best language you can around such important issues!

Dulwich College Singapore

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

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