Words matter, and last week The Guardian announced it will start using more appropriately strong words that reflect the magnitude of the climate crisis. Instead of “climate change,” which editor-in-chief Katharine Viner said sounds passive and gentle, staff writers will now use the terms “climate crisis” and “climate emergency”.

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“What scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity,” Viner said in a statement sent to all Guardian staff. “Increasingly, climate scientists and organizations from the UN to the Met Office are changing their terminology and using stronger language to describe the situation we’re in.”

Related: Ireland declares a climate emergency, promises action

Recent reports about the urgency of reducing carbon emissions and the loss of biodiversity also helped motivate the change to take a stronger stance on the climate crisis. The Guardian will also use “wildlife” instead of “biodiversity” and “fish populations” instead of “fish stock.”

The Guardian has also decided to discontinue the misleading use and recognition of “climate skeptics” who will now be called “climate science deniers.” A skeptic is “a seeker of truth; an inquirer who has not yet arrived at definite conclusions.” However, in today’s climate skeptics can more accurately be described as those who deny overwhelming scientific evidence. Writers at the BBC have also been advised to give less airtime to climate science deniers, a position which is no longer widely accepted as an alternative and balanced side to climate debates.

The Guardian recently began including the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels on their daily weather reports. The change is the first time that weather reports symbolize not only how weather is predicted to impact human activity on a certain day but also how humans are impacting the weather.

“Wording around climate really does matter, and though The Guardian’s changes are technically small, they may help reinforce the importance of climate reporting in the minds of both readers and newsroom staff,” Laura Hazard Owen from think tank Nieman Labshe wrote of the change.

Via The Guardian

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