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'Global Warming' More Impactful Than 'Climate Change', New Study Confirms


Next time giving a talk on the subject, remember the terms "global warming" and "climate change" does not have the same effect.

In a new study from the Yale Project on Climate Communications, researchers found the phrase "global warming" was universally used more often and is more engaging than "climate change." They found global warming caused survey respondents to think of weather disasters like melting ice caps and coastal flooding.

"The studies found that the two terms are often not synonymous - they mean different things to different people - and activate different sets of beliefs, feelings and behaviors, as well as different degrees of urgency about the need to respond," the researchers wrote in their report.

From a report in Time, the phrase "global warming" was also associated with:

"Greater certainty that the phenomenon was happening.
"Greater understanding that human activities were the primary driver of warming, especially among political independents.
"A greater sense of personal threat, as well as more intense worry about the issue.
"A greater sense that people are being harmed right now by warming, and a greater sense of threat to future generations.
"Greater support for both large and small-scale actions by the U.S. (although "climate change" generates more support for medium-scale efforts, especially among Republicans.)"

The reporter for Time also found he used the term "climate change" more often than "global warming," contrary to the report.

"Global warming refers to the increase in the Earth's average surface temperature since the Industrial Revolution, primarily due to the emission of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels and land-use change, whereas climate change refers to the long-term change of the Earth's climate, including changes in temperature, precipitation and wind patterns over a period of several decades or longer," the researchers wrote.

The team noted that the difference in reactions between hearing the two phrases are minimal, but that environmentalists should say "global warming" to grab their audience.

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