By John Collins Rudolf
New York, NY (September 20, 2010)- Is the White House trying to rebrand global warming? That’s the impression that some conservative-leaning media outlets and blogs formed after recent remarks on climate change by John P. Holdren, a top White House science adviser.
In a speech in Oslo on Sept. 6, Dr. Holdren called “global warming” a “dangerous misnomer” because it implied that the impact of greenhouse gases would be gradual, uniform across the planet and “quite possibly benign.” Rather, he said, changes to the climate are rapid when viewed in terms of the capacity of society and ecosystems to adjust; the impact is distributed unevenly; and the outcome will be overwhelmingly negative for most of the globe.
A better term would be “global climate disruption,” Dr. Holdren said. Fox News saw politics at work. “Another terminology change is in the pipeline,” an unattributed report at its Web site stated on Thursday. “The new push could be an attempt to reshape climate messaging for next year’s legislative session.” “They’re trying to come up with more politically palatable ways to sell some of this stuff,” said Adam Geller, one of two Republican organizers quoted by Fox.
Rick Weiss, a spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, called the idea that Dr. Holdren’s remarks represented the opening of a new administration campaign simply untrue. “There’s no attempt at rebranding here,” he said. Nevertheless, the Fox report — and the allegation that the choice of words amounted to a new White House policy — has ricocheted around the digital and print media in recent days, picking up steam after it was featured at the conservative Drudge Report Web site.
“Resorting to this new, more panicky terminology betrays their anxiousness,” The Washington Times said in an editorial on Friday. “They had their shot at ‘cap and trade,’ carbon taxing and enslaving the economy to their arcane theories, but they came up short. Now they hope to win an argument through fear that they couldn’t carry by reason.”
In fact, the term “global climate disruption” is far from new. Dr. Holdren, a strong advocate for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, has used that phrase and variations thereof for well over a decade, dating back as far as 1997, to a joint letter on climate he wrote with several other leading scientists. And the phrase has popped up in dozens of speeches and statements by a variety of groups and individuals advocating climate action over the years.
What is more, Dr. Holdren is not alone in his dislike of “global warming”: even NASA has largely abandoned the term. “Temperature change itself isn’t the most severe effect of changing climate,” a 2008 statement at NASA’s Web site says. “Changes to precipitation patterns and sea level are likely to have much greater human impact than the higher temperatures alone.”
The New York Times- A Rebranding for Global Warming?