John Holdren
John Holdren has a disruptive idea.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

White House science adviser John Holdren knows a lot about climate change. Just a couple of months ago, he smacked down climate deniers in a video released by the White House in which he coolly explained the links between climate change and the polar vortex. Now he’s hoping to change the words we use when talking about the climate. ScienceInsider reports:

“I’ve always thought that the phrase ‘global warming’ was something of a misnomer because it suggests that the phenomenon is something that is uniform around the world, that it’s all about temperature, and that it’s gradual,” Holdren said [Thursday] at the annual [American Association for the Advancement of Science] Forum on Science and Technology Policy in Washington, D.C. …

Instead, he said, “we should call it ‘global climate disruption.’ Although the rising average global surface temperature is an indicator of the degree of disruption that we have imposed on the global climate system, what’s actually happening involves changes in circulation patterns, changes in precipitation patterns, and changes in extremes. And those are very different in different places.”

Holdren has made similar calls before, apparently with limited effect on the public’s vocabulary. This time, the remarks came in the context of a brief preview Holdren gave of a new climate report that the Obama administration is scheduled to release [this] week. The document will, in part, spell out the potential disruptions the United States faces as a result of a changing climate, perhaps giving Holdren’s idea some currency.

It makes perfect sense to refer to climate disruptions. But asking an already climate-confused populace to embrace a new term probably won’t do much to help bust down that wall of corporate-sponsored climate denialism.