A guest blog by Danny Bloom
In the fight against global warming, no matter what side of the aisle one is coming from, leftwing or rightwing or right down the center — or even, in some cases, outright denial that man-made global warming exists at all — the words and slogans used by activists and campaigners can have a powerful impact on the debate, not only swaying minds but also changing the ways that people live their lives, carbon footprint at all.
Recently, there was a news item on the Internet with a headline that went like this:
“Five keys to a safe-climate future”
When a blogger in Taiwan read that headline and saw for the first time the phrase “safe-climate future”, his eyes did not glaze over, quite the contrary. He woke up from the normal quiet buzz in the email cafe where he was surfing the Internet that day and realized that the using the two words together, with a hyphen connecting them — “safe-climate” — had a very good ring to it, and was immediately recognizable and understandable due to earlier coinage of “safe-sex” practices among activists fighting other battles.
If “safe-sex”, which had a particular ring to it after being popularized in English around the world, could have an impact, then perhaps “safe-climate” could also play a role in the debate over climate change and global warming, the blogger in Taiwan thought to himself as fellow denizens of the email cafe continued playing a variety of noisy “computer games” on the Internet all over the cavernous room. Yes, he thought, this term, whoever coined it, has come up with a very good concept, and it could be applied to other topics in the global warming debate — for example, one could speak of “safe-climate lifestyles” and “safe-climate education” and “safe-climate ideas,” in addition to talking about a “safe-climate future”.
According to sources, a green activist in the USA first coined the “safe-climate future” wording when he wrote the headline for the article about the Code Red report linked to above. From there, the phrase spread around the Internet, via blogs and comments and news websites, and a new phrase was born. So whether we are talking about a safe-climate future or practicing a safe-climate lifestyle, the new coinage has great possibilities of rallyng people around the vital issues of the day and inspiring them to lead more safe-climate lifestyles themselves.
The phrase seems like a good wake-up call, using language as a tool. When asked about this idea, comments on the blogosphere ranged from “inspired” to “important”. Of course, there were also some naysayers, there are always people who don’t cotton to a new word or phrase when they first encounter it and shy way from wanting to use it when it seems so strange to them at first. Later, they might come around. Or later, they may still not like the new coinage. That’s okay. If the words or phrases are useful, they will be used. If they are not useful or inspiring, they will fall by the wayside.
But talking about a safe-climate future and leading safe-climate lifestyles seems to make sense in this day and age. Here are what some people said in comments:
“I think it’s a good PR phrase. The article says that now ‘radical’ responses from activists are required. I don’t know what to do ‘radically’, but anything that helps, such as promoting a ‘safe-climate’ consciousness, lifestyle, future, surely has to help. It’s a good phrase.”
“Go, go, go! ”Safe-climate future or safe-climate lifestyles” sounds like a great idea. Good framing.”
“I Like the term a lot! — Catchy.”
“It’s simple, succinct and catchy. It’s an idea that most people can easily grasp. So it seems good.”
“Tha is an awesome term, safe-climate, and yes, we should get it used! In the media and in the blogosphere. Who coined it?”
“I too have been looking for a phrase to embody this idea. I’ve seen a couple — such as “climate preservation” — but nothing that sounds as good to me as “safe-climate lifestyle”.
“That sounds good. We need catchy phrases like that to get people thinking. And it doesn’t sound ego-threatening or scare-mongering.”
“The ways of language are mysterious, and impossible to predict. But there’s no doubt that the new reality of the 21st century calls for such a phrase as “safe-climate lifestyle or safe-climate future, and that phrase is definitely a good contender — perhaps in time it will come to be known as the phrase that saved the climate!”
So a new phrase has been born, thanks to one activist’s creativity and inspiration. If the word term catches on with media people at newspapers and on TV and radio, in addition to people blogging day and night about climate issues, it might have a long shelf life and be an important addition not only to our vocabulary, which is always evolving, but also the fight against global warming itself, as a means to help raise public awareness and concious.