In his confession/self-congratulation post detailing the Sierra Club’s former relationship with Chesapeake Energy, club chairman Michael Brune auditions some new terminology:
In the fall of 2005, Sierra Club staff and volunteer leaders agreed to make the enormous challenge of climate disruption the Club’s highest priority.
“Climate disruption.” How clever. It sounds both vaguely scientific and definitely violent and bad. It’s far more evocative than mere “climate change,” and less specific than “global warming.” When some people peddle change, such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, it’s sold as a good in and of itself and the only constant thing we can count on. So it was always going to be difficult to make any sort of “change” a villain.There’s too much invested in making “change” a good.
“Disruption” is so much more sinister and useful. Nobody likes disruptions. It’s also totally unfalsifiable. If you claim the planet is warming up, or going cold, you and others can measure whether you’re right about that or not (or you can make hockey sticks and hide declines). Making such claims opens up the possibility of peer review, and of being wrong. But “disruption” — how do you measure that? You can’t. You just say it’s happening and then point to the latest catastrophe — “That’s the disruption I’ve been warning everyone about!” And don’t talk about the overwhelming evidence that earth’s climate has changed and changed back again over the millennia without any help or hindrance from the hand of man.