Last September, the White House decided that it was going to phase out the use of the term "global warming" in favor of the even-clunkier "global climate disruption." The thinking apparently went that "warming" was an oversimplification and the new term would be a catch-all for the entire scope of environmental changes occurring to the planet, not just greenhouse emissions and rising temperatures. The move, though well-intentioned, was quickly panned—especially by conservatives.
But, courtesy of recent research, we now know a much more agreeable term to conservatives: "climate change." New research suggests that Republicans are far more likely to believe in the vaguer-sounding "climate change" than "global warming." The findings, published in Public Opinion Quarterly, show a 60 percent to 44 percent gap among self-identified Republicans in a large survey who endorsed the notion of "climate change" versus "global warming." Meaning that 16 percent of Republican respondents apparently weren't aware that "climate change" is synonymous with "global warming."
Liberal-leaning respondents didn't have a similar problem in this sample size. Miller-McCune's Tom Jacobs, who first reported the survey, notes that among Democratic respondents the difference was "was nearly nonexistent, with 86.4 percent endorsing 'climate change and 86.9 percent acknowledging global warming." Researchers explained the results by noting that climate change "lacks a directional commitment and easily accommodates unusual weather of any kind" whereas "global warming" is a term that seems to be "easily discredited by any cold spell."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.