Last Thursday political and environmental activist, writer, and columnist George Monbiot took to Twitter to showcase what he suggests should be new terms for general use in the fight against climate breakdown.
The environmentalist, who recently spoke at an Extinction Rebellion event outside Parliament, wrote; ‘Here are my suggestions on how to talk about the living world with words that engage people, reveal rather than disguise realities, and honour what we seek to protect.’
We’ve put the old and proposed new terms in a table below.
|Old Terms||New Terms|
|The environment||The living planet / the natural world|
|Climate change||Climate breakdown|
|Global warming||Global heating|
|Fish stocks||Fish populations (they don’t exist to be exploited)|
|Natural resources||Living systems / The fabric of the Earth (ditto)|
|Natural capital||Nature / living systems|
|Ecosystem services||Life support systems|
|Nature reserves||Wildlife refuges (reserve suggests distance)|
|Extinction||Ecocide / annihilation (these suggest agency)|
|The planet||The living planet|
|Save the planet||Defending the living planet|
|Climate sceptic||Climate science denier (exact opposite of sceptic)|
|Freemarket thinktank||Opaquely-funded lobby group|
Monbiot recently published Out Of The Wreckage, a work concerning what he calls ‘the politics of belonging’ – ways in which we can take we can take back control of social, democratic, and economic life, through radical reorganisation, against forces who would seek to thwart the ambitions for a better, fairer society.
The writer is incredibly vocal on environmental activism through his twitter page, also using it to criticise the right-wing media and the presidency of Donald Trump.
The new language itself paints the world of environmental protection as both an imminent, urgent, and also, solvable, situation. In a previous tweet, explaining his use of ‘climate breakdown, over ‘climate change’ Monbiot wrote: ‘1. It better conveys the extent of the problem. 2. People don’t say “So what? The climate’s always breaking down” 3. It makes an implicit connection with the impact on our minds. 4. It suggests that we can fix it.’
What Monbiot is implicitly proposing is that to deal with climate breakdown and all ensuing related issues, we need to drastically rethink the way we perceive the living planet and our relationship to it, and this involves changing our very language to re-orientate those perspectives.
What are your thoughts on Monbiot’s new terms?