Climate Change or Climate Crisis?

We often hear the word ‘climate change’ or ‘climate crisis’ thrown around during conversation. Have we ever stopped to think what these actually mean? Or to ensure that people are getting the definitions of the words, that we are all so eager to use, correct? We then might hear the occasional odd comment along the lines of ‘climate change is not real, there was rain twice last week and the temperature didn’t rise above 24 degrees’. A person who would use this as their reasoning as to why climate change is not currently affecting us has clearly not understood what the phrase ‘climate change’ or ‘climate crisis’ means.

Firstly, it is important that we make clear the meaning of the ‘C’ word. Oxford language defines the word ‘climate’ as: ‘the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period’. The most important part of this definition is ‘long period’, you cannot pass judgement on the effects of climate change having observed the weather for only a week. Instead of asking yourself what the weather has been doing recently you must ask yourself, did you expect the weather to act like this? For example, do you think it will snow this year? I am sure that 20 years ago the answer would have been a resounding yes, however, now we are not so sure. This is the real meaning of the transformation of our climate.

The next step is to develop an understanding of the latter words ‘change’ and ‘crisis’. It is true that the second word has a greater impact on a reader, it gives a sense of urgency and danger. This is potentially helpful to get people up and moving to play their role in saving our home, planet earth. However, it is a risky game using the word ‘crisis’. For one, it implies short term conditions, a crisis is a short and sharp issue which is then resolved. It is also a one-off problem which is not expected or prepared for. Therefore, I personally do not think the word ‘crisis’ can be used to describe the unnatural reconstruction of our climate. Primarily, this dilemma we are facing is not a short-term one, it will plague humans for the rest of their existence. Secondly, we are expecting it, we have been expecting the climate to turn for many years now, hence we have been forewarned which is not the usual circumstances for a crisis. The only part of the implications of the word crisis which we can take is being unprepared. We are not, and never will be, ready for the astronomical changes which will take place during our lifetimes.

From this I think we can draw the conclusion that the climate is ‘changing’. Hence climate change is a better phrase than the more theatrical and incorrect use of the word ‘crisis’. Furthermore, crisis is losing its impact. People have listened to, watched and read so much about our planet and its changing atmosphere that the information really passes over everyone’s heads. I would love to offer a solution on how to get people to not only passively listen but to help us in our efforts to prevent wrecking our only home, however, I’m not sure there is one. People are convinced it may be too late – ‘look at the heatwave we have this summer’ they may say. However, as previously mentioned, the weather over nine weeks is not our climate. To add to this, was anyone expecting this heatwave – the answer is no. Hence, our climate is not beyond help. We cannot leave our world helpless as we choke it with fumes when we can still make a difference.

Hannah, Deputy Head Girl

Photo Credit: Climate Change
VICTOR HABBICK VISIONS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Universal Images Group
Rights Managed / For Education Use Only