Is It ‘Climate Crisis’ or ‘Climate Change'? The Guardian Updates Its Style Guide
The Guardian is changing the way it writes about environmental issues.
In an update to its house style guide reported Friday, the paper now recommends writers use "climate emergency, crisis or breakdown" instead of "climate change" and "global heating" instead of "global warming."
From today, the Guardian is updating the language we use when we report on the environment: https://t.co/UJtqEjQ1Kd— Katharine Viner (@Katharine Viner)1558086156.0
"We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue," Editor-in-Chief Katharine Viner explained. "The phrase 'climate change,' for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity."
The changes were also emailed to staff and added to the online style guide the same day, Carbon Brief Director and Editor Leo Hickman reported on Twitter. Other changes include replacing "biodiversity" with "wildlife," "fish stocks" with "fish populations" and "climate sceptic" with "climate science denier."
+BREAKING+ The Guardian's editor has just issued this new guidance to all staff on language to use when writing ab… https://t.co/JMGlFl5JTO— Leo Hickman (@Leo Hickman)1558086489.0
"The OED defines a sceptic as 'a seeker of the truth; an inquirer who has not yet arrived at definite conclusions,'" the new style guide reads. "Most 'climate sceptics,' in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, deny climate change is happening, or is caused by human activity, so denier is more accurate."
Writing for journalism think tank the Nieman Lab, Laura Hazard Owen noted that The Guardian was ahead of the curve in paying attention to climate change, pointing to its decision to include carbon dioxide concentrations in its weather reports.
"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," she wrote.
The Guardian said the changes were in response to a number of political and scientific developments, among them
1. The October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that found that carbon dioxide levels needed to fall by nearly half by 2030 in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and avoid catastrophic impacts.
2. A May UN report warning that biodiversity and natural systems were declining across the globe, putting the human societies that rely on them at risk.
3. The use of the term "climate crisis" by United Nations Sec. General António Guterres and climate scientist Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who has advised Angela Merkel, the EU and the pope.
4. The UK Parliament's declaration of a climate emergency this month.
The Guardian also referenced the words of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, whose school strike for climate action inspired a youth movement.
"It's 2019. Can we all now please stop saying "climate change" and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she asked on Twitter this month.
It’s 2019. Can we all now please stop saying “climate change” and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, cl… https://t.co/o3xISBuVO6— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1556990046.0
Scientists had mixed responses to the changes, according to quotes assembled by the Science Media Centre.
"We have a decade to change how humanity abuses the Planet. The climate and environmental emergency declared by the UK Parliament is real. The language we use to discuss the greatest challenge facing humanity must reflect the urgency and the importance," University College London Climatology Prof. Mark Maslin said. "The Guardian new editorial guidelines show a clear understanding the world has changed and the zeitgeist generated by Extinction Rebellion, and the climate school strikes."
However, others said the new terms were too value-laden to be truly scientific.
"In my view, 'Climate emergency' and 'climate crisis' are a matter of opinion, not science. They are to do with how people & society view climate change and whether / how to respond. individuals will have personal views on these but they are not scientific terms," Met Office Fellow Prof. Richard Betts said. "'Climate breakdown' seems more like an attempt at a scientific term, but it implies a judgement on what an 'unbroken' climate is. Scientifically I don't think there such a thing though. There are ranges of climate conditions to which humans are adapted, and we will obviously be in big trouble if the climate moves out of those ranges, but that's still not really the same as the climate 'breaking down.'"
It was Betts who inspired The Guardian to replace "global warming" with "global heating."
"Global heating is technically more correct because we are talking about changes in the energy balance of the planet," he said at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland last December, as The Guardian reported.
Betts clarified the difference between the terms for the Science Media Centre.
"I think Global Heating describes the process — changing the Earth's energy balance. It implies attribution," he said. "Global warming (the rise in temperature) is the consequence of global heating. So, both are OK, it depends exactly what you mean."
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By Brian Bienkowski
Fish exposed to endocrine-disrupting compounds pass on health problems to future generations, including deformities, reduced survival, and reproductive problems, according to a new study.
Low Levels Lead to Generational Impacts<p>Researchers exposed inland silverside fish to bifenthrin, levonorgestrel, ethinylestradiol, and trenbolone to levels currently found in waterways.</p><p>"Our concentrations were actually on the low end" of what is found in the wild, DeCourten said, adding that it was low amounts of chemicals in parts per trillion.</p><p>Bifenthrin is a pesticide; levonorgestrel and ethinylestradiol are synthetic hormones used in birth controls; and trenbolone is a synthetic steroid often given to cattle to bulk them up.</p><p>Such endocrine-disruptors have already been linked to a variety of health problems in directly exposed fish including altered growth, reduced survival, lowered egg production, skewed sex ratios, and negative impacts to immune systems. But what remains less clear is how the exposure may impact future generations.</p><p>For their study, DeCourten and colleagues started the exposure when the fish were embryos and continued it for 21 days.</p><p>They then tracked effects on the exposed fish, and the next two generations.</p>
Inherited Problems<p>DeCourten said the altered DNA methylation is one of the plausible ways that future generations would experience health impacts from previous generations' exposure. Hormone-disrupting compounds have been shown to impact DNA methylation, which is an important marker of how an organism will develop.</p><p>"Methyl groups are added to specific sites on the genome, [the exposure] is not changing the genome itself, but rather how the genome is expressed," she said. "And that can be inherited throughout generations."</p><p>In addition, Brander said there are essentially different "tags" that exist on DNA molecules, which tell genes how to turn on and off. She said the exposure to different compounds may be "influencing which methyl tags get taken on or off as you proceed through generations."</p><p>The researchers said the study should prompt future toxics testing to consider impacts on future generations.</p><p>"The results … throw a wrench in the current approach to regulating chemicals, where it's often short-term testing looking at simple things like growth, survival, and maybe gene expression," Brander said.</p><p>"These findings are telling us we really at least need to consider" the next two generations, she added.</p>
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By Laura Beil
Consumers have long turned to vitamins and herbs to try to protect themselves from disease. This pandemic is no different — especially with headlines that scream "This supplement could save you from coronavirus."
Vitamin D<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Called "the sunshine vitamin" because the body makes it naturally in the presence of ultraviolet light, <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/vitamin-d-supplements-lose-luster" target="_blank">Vitamin D is one of the most heavily studied</a> supplements (<em>SN: 1/27/19</em>). <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/appendix-12/" target="_blank">Certain foods</a>, including fish and fortified milk products, are also high in the vitamin.</p><p><strong>Why it might help: </strong>Vitamin D is a hormone building block that helps strengthen the immune system.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections:</strong> In 2017, the <em>British Medical Journal</em> published a meta-analysis that suggested a daily vitamin D supplement <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583" target="_blank">might help prevent respiratory infections</a>, particularly in people who are deficient in the vitamin.</p><p>But one key word here is <em>deficient. </em>That risk is highest during dark winters at high latitudes and among people with more color in their skin (melanin, a pigment that's higher in darker skin, inhibits the production of vitamin D).</p><p>"If you have enough vitamin D in your body, the evidence doesn't stack up to say that giving you more will make a real difference," says Susan Lanham-New, head of the Nutritional Sciences Department at the University of Surrey in England.</p><p>And taking too much can create new health problems, stressing certain internal organs and leading to a dangerously high calcium buildup in the blood. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 600 to 800 International Units per day, and the upper limit is considered to be 4,000 IUs per day.</p><p><strong>What we know about Vitamin D and COVID-19:</strong> Few studies have looked directly at whether vitamin D makes a difference in COVID.</p>
Zinc<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Zinc, a mineral found in cells all over the body, is found naturally in certain meats, beans and oysters.</p><p><strong>Why it might help: </strong>It plays several supportive roles in the immune system, which is why zinc lozenges are always hot sellers in cold and flu season. Zinc also helps with cell division and growth.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections: </strong><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6457799/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies of using zinc for colds</a> — which are frequently caused by coronaviruses — suggest that using a supplement right after symptoms start might make them go away quicker. That said, a clinical trial from researchers in Finland and the United Kingdom, published in January in <em>BMJ Open</em> <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/1/e031662" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">did not find any value for zinc lozenges</a> for the treatment of colds. Some researchers have theorized that inconsistencies in data for colds may be explained by varying amounts of zinc released in different lozenges.</p><p><strong>What we know about zinc and COVID-19:</strong> The mineral is promising enough that it was added to some early studies of hydroxychloroquine, a drug tested early in the pandemic. (Studies have since shown that <a href="https://www.sciencenews.org/article/covid-19-coronavirus-hydroxychloroquine-no-evidence-treatment" target="_blank">hydroxychloroquine can't prevent or treat COVID-19</a> (<em>SN: 8/2/20</em>).)</p>
Vitamin C<p><strong>What it is: </strong>Also called L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C has a long list of roles in the body. It's found naturally in fruits and vegetables, especially citrus, peppers and tomatoes.</p><p><strong>Why it might help:</strong> It's a potent antioxidant that's important for a healthy immune system and preventing inflammation.</p><p><strong>How it works for other infections: </strong>Thomas cautions that the data on vitamin C are often contradictory. One review from Chinese researchers, published in February in the <em>Journal of Medical Virolog</em>y, looked at <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jmv.25707" target="_blank">what is already known about vitamin C</a> and other supplements that might have a role in COVID-19 treatment. Among other encouraging signs, human studies find a lower incidence of pneumonia among people taking vitamin C, "suggesting that vitamin C might prevent the susceptibility to lower respiratory tract infections under certain conditions."</p><p>But for preventing colds, a 2013 Cochrane review of 29 studies <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">didn't support the idea</a> that vitamin C supplements could help in the general population. However, the authors wrote, given that vitamin C is cheap and safe, "it may be worthwhile for common cold patients to test on an individual basis whether therapeutic vitamin C is beneficial."</p><p><strong>What we know about Vitamin C and COVID-19: </strong>About a dozen studies are under way or planned to examine whether vitamin C added to coronavirus treatment helps with symptoms or survival, including Thomas' study at the Cleveland Clinic.</p><p>In a review published online in July in <em>Nutrition</em>, researchers from KU Leuven in Belgium concluded that the <a href="https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">vitamin may help prevent infection</a> and tamp down the dangerous inflammatory reaction that can cause severe symptoms, based on what is known about how the nutrient works in the body.</p><p>Melissa Badowski, a pharmacist who specializes in viral infections at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy and colleague Sarah Michienzi published an extensive look at all supplements that might be useful in the coronavirus epidemic. There's <a href="https://www.drugsincontext.com/can-vitamins-and-or-supplements-provide-hope-against-coronavirus/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">still not enough evidence to know whether they are helpful</a>, the pair concluded in July in <em>Drugs in Context</em>. "It's not really clear if it's going to benefit patients," Badowski says.</p><p>And while supplements are generally safe, she adds that nothing is risk free. The best way to avoid infection, she says, is still to follow the advice of epidemiologists and public health experts: "Wash your hands, wear a mask, stay six feet apart."</p>
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