Oliver North's climate change English lesson

Did environmentalists stop talking about "global warming" of their own accord?

Published November 20, 2009 2:21PM (EST)

From a fundraising letter from Oliver North:

Again, ever wonder why the liberals now always try to use the new term "catastrophic climate change" rather than "global warming." It's because it allows them to blame EVERY weather event (heat waves, blizzards, floods, droughts, hurricanes, etc.) on you, me, and our current use of fossil fuels. The goal? To destroy our way of life and con us into giving away billions of dollars to solve a non-crisis we have no power to prevent, even if it were real!

I think Ollie's got his history a little mixed up. If I recall, Republicans, following the advice of consultant Frank Luntz, as formulated in his famous 2002 memo, started using the words "climate change" instead of "global warming" because global warming was "too frightening."

From an account in the UK Guardian:

The phrase "global warming" should be abandoned in favor of "climate change", Mr Luntz says, and the party should describe its policies as "conservationist" instead of "environmentalist", because "most people" think environmentalists are "extremists" who indulge in "some pretty bizarre behavior... that turns off many voters".

I guess one example of that bizarre behavior was a little semiotic jujitsu, in which environmentalists embraced the climate change name switch, but tacked on catastrophic to get the original point across.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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