Scientific American Drops ‘Climate Change,’ to Use ‘Climate Emergency’ Instead: ‘Words Matter’

Jason Duaine Hahn
·2 min read

Josh Edelson/Getty

Scientific American magazine announced it would replace the term "climate change" with something they feel is more appropriate for the state of the planet and humanity.

In a post on Monday, senior editor Mark Fischetti said the publication has agreed with other news outlets to use "climate emergency" instead of "climate change" in its stories moving forward.

Comparing Earth's environmental concerns to medical situations that require 911 help, Fischetti said there was no mistake the planet is in an emergency of its own.

"Consider the following scenarios: A hurricane blasts Florida. A California dam bursts because floods have piled water high up behind it. A sudden, record-setting cold snap cuts power to the entire state of Texas," Fischetti wrote. "These are also emergencies that require immediate action. Multiply these situations worldwide, and you have the biggest environmental emergency to beset the earth in millennia: climate change."

"Journalism should reflect what science says: the climate emergency is here," he added.

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JOSH EDELSON//Getty Images Fires in San

The magazine, which is the oldest continuously published magazine in the United States, joins Columbia Journalism Review, the Nation, the Guardian, Noticias Telemundo, Al Jazeera, Japan's Asahi Shimbun and La Repubblica of Italy in making the change in terminology.

"The planet is heating up way too fast. It's time for journalism to recognize that the climate emergency is here," their statement read, in part. "This is a statement of science, not politics."

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"Why 'emergency'? Because words matter. To preserve a livable planet, humanity must take action immediately," the publication continued. "Failure to slash the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will make the extraordinary heat, storms, wildfires and ice melt of 2020 routine and could 'render a significant portion of the Earth uninhabitable,' warned the January Scientific American article."

The statement said the decision was spurred in part by the media's use of "emergency" when covering the coronavirus pandemic.

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"We need the same commitment to the climate story," their statement continued.

Earlier in April, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said methane and carbon dioxide levels increased to levels higher than any time in the past 3.6 million years in 2020, even with millions of people staying home during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Human activity is driving climate change," Colm Sweeney, assistant deputy director of the Global Monitoring Lab, said in a statement to the NOAA.

"If we want to mitigate the worst impacts, it's going to take a deliberate focus on reducing fossil fuels emissions to near zero," he added, "and even then we'll need to look for ways to further remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere."