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How We Communicate the Climate Crisis Matters

For years, man’s ability to transform fossil fuels into energy has made the conveniences of modern life possible, but at what cost? Surface temperatures in 2020 averaged 1.76 degrees warmer than the twentieth-century average. And while there is enough scientific evidence behind the reality of global warming, many continue to deny it. Others have simply given up hope that they have the ability to do anything about it. However, this isn’t a problem of science alone, but of communication as well. 

The term “global warming” was popularly used in addressing the changes in our environment, specifically the increased temperatures on Earth. The use of fossil fuels does a lot more than increase temperatures. It has also been a cause of major floods, it affects our air and water content, and can have detrimental impacts on the health of humans and other animals. Furthermore, when Texas faces a snowstorm and New England has record snowfall, global warming sounds like a hoax to some. To encompass the other issues, the term “climate change”  became more widely used, hinting at the many environmental changes that come from the burning of fossil fuels and other unsustainable practices. The Guardian implements these changes in their climate language and also discusses how the term “climate crisis” is the best phrase to use since it addresses the urgency of the issue as well. These environmental impacts are devastating to our world and significant changes need to be made to save our planet. Some have gone even as far as to call it “climate chaos.” However, chaos implies that we may not be able to control the situation, whereas “climate crisis” implies a sense of controllability and an emphasis on the need for climate action now.

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The climate crisis is not only a matter of science, but one of politics as well. Recently, youth have begun fighting for climate justice, as marginalized communities have disproportionately been impacted by the climate crisis. Developing countries with higher poverty rates, limited access to resources, and unstable governments will be most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Additionally, in America, low-income and marginalized communities face the worst of the environmental injustices and this fact is often overlooked. NAACP notes how several communities are located near power plants and factories, exposing them to deadly toxins, and it’s difficult to find fresh fruits and vegetables around these areas. No one can escape the effects of climate change, and some are more vulnerable to them than others.

Acknowledging the fact that there is a crisis is step one, but we then also have to find a solution to the problem. The climate crisis sounds scary and unstoppable, and many people don’t know what to do about it. Remember, we have the power to create change. That fear that it’s too late, and the hope that you can still do something about it, should drive you to take action and demand change from leaders.

The language we use and the ways we communicate the climate crisis is imperative to how we view it. Education and terminology that provokes a sense of urgency are necessary for us to realize the extent of this crisis and the immediacy of it. It motivates us to take action, to call legislators, and march down cities demanding change. There is no planet B, so climate action needs to be taken now.

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Riti Jain

U Mass Amherst '24

Riti is a sophomore at UMass Amherst majoring in Economics and Communication. She has a passion for the arts, media, culture, and politics. When she's not writing for Her Campus or studying for classes, you can find her dancing, taking photos, or reading the other amazing Her Campus articles.
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