The language we use for climate solutions can exacerbate the cultural divide. Terms such as “regulate,” “restrict,” “cut,” “control” and “tax” are unpopular, especially among conservatives. Perhaps people would be more likely to support solutions described with words such as “innovation,” “entrepreneurship,” “ingenuity,” “market-based” and “competing in the global clean energy race.” The fact that the first significant U.S. climate policy is called the Inflation Reduction Act is another example of how word choice matters.
One way to counter disinformation is to get ahead of it by “inoculating” the public—promoting accurate information and helping people recognize disinformation techniques. Researchers have determined that preemptive messages explaining disinformation techniques while highlighting correct information can be effective in preventing misunderstanding.
This article was originally published with the title "Changing the Language of Climate Change" in Scientific American 328, 2, 64-67 (February 2023)