I am developing a minor, rhetorical gripe with the how deeply embedded and widespread the term “climate change” is. It is an incredibly vague and passive term, and does little to represent the actual magnitude of the ongoing destabilization of the climate, and other sub-systems of the Earth’s biosphere. This is why I am going to try to go out of my way to avoid using the term “climate change” in discussions and writing, and instead use the term “climate crisis”, or refer to the “destabilization of the climate/Earth’s ecology”, or alike terms (the term “climate chaos” seems to have been gaining some traction among climate justice activists).
But whatever we use, it should evoke a sense of destruction, since that is what is actually happening. The Earth’s climate has changed before, many times, (as climate crisis deniers are quick to argue) — but what’s unique about the climactic changes being driven by anthropogenic carbon emissions is just how rapid, in geological and evolutionary time-frames, the changes are taking place. Let us make sure our language properly reflects this.