The U.K. Guardian newspaper has for months been working to change the words we use to discuss climate and environmental issues. They just published their glossary.
Prominent on the list is The Guardian’s formal adoption of the pejorative term “denier” and the elimination of the word “skeptic” to describe people attempting to correct the record on climate. In the pages of The Guardian, if you have the temerity to point out that sea level has risen a scant 1 to 3 mm per year since before the industrial revolution, that measurements reveal climate computer models run too hot, that a weather event is historically normal, that intermittent wind and solar are inefficient, or that polar bears are thriving up north, you deserve to be lumped in with “holocaust deniers.”
Deniers? Talk about speech as hate!
Guardian Editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, said: We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue. These are the guidelines provided to our journalists and editors to be used in the production of all environment coverage across the Guardian’s website and paper:
1.) “climate emergency” or “climate crisis” to be used instead of “climate change”
2.) “climate science denier” or “climate denier” to be used instead of “climate sceptic”
3.) Use “global heating” not “global warming”
4.) “greenhouse gas emissions” is preferred to “carbon emissions” or “carbon dioxide emissions”
5.) Use “wildlife”, not “biodiversity”
6.) Use “fish populations” instead of “fish stocks”
Didn’t climate campaigners just get done insisting we all substitute “climate change” in place of “global warming” to divert attention from all those inconvenient satellites and thermometers recording less warming than they were supposed to?
Paul Chadwick, The Guardian’s readers’ editor, wrote in June:
I support Viner’s direction of travel. She is harnessing the power of language usage to focus minds on an urgent global issue. One challenge for the Guardian and the Observer will be to weigh, in specific journalistic contexts, two sometimes competing aspects of terminology used in public debates: language as description, and language as exhortation.
This is dangerous, and it goes beyond climate issues. It’s bad enough for global warming activists and groups to attempt to silence opposition. A more problematic trend is when it comes from the media itself.
Murphy shared some prominent examples:
- Chuck Todd, host of the NBC program Meet the Press announced last January he will never have as a guest anyone who questions or challenges global warming.
- The Los Angeles Times and the magazine Popular Science announced they would no longer publish opposing opinions to global warming orthodoxy.
- During CNN’s “Town Hall” on climate change with Democratic presidential hopefuls last August, moderators walked in lockstep with the doomsday scenario espoused by the candidates without critical examination.
- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., advocated that climate “deniers” be jailed for exercising their free speech rights if they oppose his extreme view of climate change.
George Orwell wrote powerfully about the alteration of language to enforce orthodoxy and censor thought in his masterpiece 1984. He postulated a language called “Newspeak” that was designed to weed all that troublesome questioning of authority out of the English language. The novels appendix explains that:
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc (English Socialism), but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought — that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc — should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.
We again remind Chuck Todd, the Guardian and the rest, that Orwell wrote 1984 as a warning, not an instruction manual.