People Don't Care about Global Warming or the Environment

The New York Times reports:

The problem with global warming, some environmentalists believe, is “global warming.”

The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling


The answer, Mr. Perkowitz said in his presentation at the briefing, is to reframe the issue using different language. ... In fact, the group’s surveys and focus groups found, it is time to drop the term “the environment” and talk about “the air we breathe, the water our children drink.”

The article implies that the ideas are fine but the words are not fine, and that new words should be used to relabel the same ideas - that the old wine should be sold in a new bottle. I think that's wrong as a true diagnosis though the suggested cure may work as a temporary palliative. People are not rejecting the words. They are rejecting the ideas.

Language does, of course, affect people's perceptions. Call a bill a "stimulus bill" and that will tend to make people think it is a stimulus bill. But the size of that effect depends on ignorance, and over time ignorance fades. Call enough wasteful legislation "stimulus", and over time the word will acquire a bad aroma. The fix - a temporary fix - is to find a new word, one which has not built up valid associations from long experience and therefore one which wipes the slate clean and pulls the wool back over people's eyes.

The terms "global warming" and "the environment" used to be fine and are fine, by themselves. What made the terms become radioactive was the ideas behind them. The words "global warming" call to mind economic sacrifice because that's what activists have been demanding. If they switch to new words, they may buy themselves a few years by the temporary confusion caused in people's minds, but eventually - if the activists don't stop demanding economic sacrifice - people will realize that the new words mean the same thing as the old words, the new words will become radioactive, and activists will have to find even newer words. Changing the words is a short-term fix. The long-term fix is changing the ideas behind the words.

A short term fix, of course, may confuse people for long enough to ram through the legislation that the activists want.

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Sounds like a euphemism

Sounds like a euphemism treadmill to me.

Yes it does

I wasn't aware of this. Thanks for the pointer. This line is funny:

A complementary "dysphemism treadmill" exists, but is more rarely observed. One modern example is the word scumbag, which was originally a reference to a used condom, now is a fairly mild epithet.[7] This is in stark contrast to the related term douchebag, which is still semi-common but has a much more negative connotation.

The term turns people off,

The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling

Really? It does? Well that's a relief, but that's not the vibe I am getting from the media.

indifference to global warming

According to this estimate, in 2008 approximately 76% of the US considers themselves Christian.

A doctrine of the bible is that this current world will be destroyed by fire (2 Peter 3:10) "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."

And then we get a new Earth according to 2 Peter 3:13 "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."

Perhaps a great deal of people don't care that much about the environment because they know someday God is going to destroy it and create a new earth. Would you sacrifice time, money or comfort sweeping a room when you know the building is going to soon be demolished?

I don't think so

The google results suggest that the connection of global warming to 2 peter 3:10 is very much a fringe view among Christians. The total number of pages returned by this search is less than 2000. In contrast, the total number of pages returned by this search is over 3 million. Browsing the first page of hits for the latter search shows me several pages that seriously discuss Christianity and global warming but nowhere mention anything about that passage (I page-searched for the string "peter" on each page and it did not appear on a single one of the first page of hits).

When the page count gets close to 1000 - in a country of 300 million - I think, "fringe view, extreme minority view". As a point of comparison, the google search page count for anarcho-capitalism is about 70,000. And anarcho-capitalism is an extreme minority view. So the connection of global warming to 2 peter 3:10 is - going by this evidence - extremely extreme minority. By the way, to address the possibility that "2 peter 3:10" is an unusual form, I tried alternatives and did not get significantly different results, and I looked into this question from other angles (e.g. manually searching for "peter" as I described above).

Furthermore, the passage does not seem to describe global warming. It seems, rather, to describe a fiery death, which does not well match the slight uptick in temperature that is predicted as global warming. What the passage matches is the eventual death of the Earth in a cataclysmic solar event, such as is predicted to occur a few billions of years in the future. This may explain why Christians seem for the most part to ignore 2 Peter 3:10 in relation to global warming.

the ideas have become radioactive - euphemism will not change th

Whenever news about "the environment" appears on television, they show a fifty year old file movie of a vast smokestack pouring out black smoke: The message being that curing "the environment" involves sacrificing a few evil capitalists to Gaia, not sacrificing the viewer.

The viewer, however, is starting to suspect that he is the intended sacrifice, and changing the words will not alter that - the viewer has become suspicious of the ideas.

Extreme fringe or a Christian I follow the Bible...

I think that jack makes a valid point about the religious view of man made global warming being in contradiction to the Christian Bible view of the current earth being destroyed by a destructive fire from God as mentioned in 2 Peter 3.

Also, the idea of man changing of climate temps. seems totally faith-based -- much like the religious idea that man evolved from a fish then something like a monkey (and even before that just chemicals in a soup - and even farther back just a dot of matter prior to the "big bang).

As a Christian I find it reasonable to trust in the Bible, and I know that this requires faith in certain things not seen, but faith is also required for the adherents to the church of man made global warming, evolution, and atheism. For the atheist, their faith is that to believe that they know all information that is possible to know, and based on their absolute knowledge they can reliably conclude that there is no god. The reality is that no person has absolute knowledge. Every day we are learning new things about this planet and the human body, not to mention the HUGE expanse of un-explored space. In their minds it is not possible that god exists within what in reality they do not know.

To conclude, I feel that no religion should not be taught in the schools, or paid for with tax dollars, and that includes the faith-based religions of environmentalism, evolution, and humanism. That is not to say that there is anything wrong with people on their own being avid adherents to these faiths, but please put these religions on the same grounds as the theistic religions.