|Rally, Parliament House, Canberra, 3 February 2009|
In a matter of months, the language of climate emergency has exploded into public space in a spectacular way, with national, regional and governments adopting the term.
Last Friday The Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner issued new language guidelines to her staff:
Instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned. “We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity”... The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, talked of the “climate crisis” in September, adding: “We face a direct existential threat.”Just a year ago, such language was rarely, if ever, heard in the media, among politicians and policymakers, or from professional climate advocates. So how did we get to here?