[Coral-List] warming, heating, stewing, whatever...it does matter how we say it.
lesk at bu.edu
Fri Sep 29 12:13:21 EDT 2006
Every word we as scientists use in the public domain, has power.
These words must be chosen carefully, and adaptively. Retention of
terms that have proven ineffective in invoking critical reappraisal
of policy in light of new knowledge, are a favor to no one, and
history couldn't care less what's entrenched in the literature. We
no longer refer to either N-rays or phlogiston except in the history
The transition from communicating clearly to communicating
effectively is admittedly a leap across a cultural chasm.
The question is whether we wish to make this leap ourselves, trusting
in our own judgement, or if we'd prefer to leave it to Fox News.
I don't think Fox News does such a great job, myself.
As for the best term, note that neither warming nor heating nor
anything having to do with temperature conveys the perhaps greater
and more insidious threat of acidification. By the way, telling the
press about "depressed aragonite saturation state" never quite made
the grade; for acidification there is hope (nobody likes strong acid
or dissolving critters) and hence also a hope of addressing the
problem. However slim and belated.
Professor of Biology
Boston University Marine Program
Marine Management Area Science
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