I’m fascinated by the words people use. I’ve recently been reading some books and newspaper articles about the modern environmental and green movement and I’m left wondering: Why does the green and environmental movement constantly sabotage itself with its choice of language?
Some leading environmentalists choose language which means the opposite of the messages they wish to give. Just take a brief look at the words environmentalists use and you can see that they fail to say what they mean and fail to make themselves clear. If you want to communicate effectively you have to use the language and understanding of your audience.
Here’s why I think environmentalists are doing their cause such a disservice: Firstly, using the word ‘green’ is problematic. What human characteristics do you associate with the colour green?
Envy? “Green with envy”: It means you are unhappy because someone else has something that you want.
Naivety?: a lack of experience, understanding or sophistication.
Sickly?: “Green around the gills”: Pale or sickly in appearance.
Envious, naive and sick; is that really the message they want to convey?
How about the word environmental or environmentalist? What human characteristics do you associate with those words? Mental? Mad? Unhinged? Mentalist? Dangerous? Out of control?
What about ‘Global warming’? What are your associations with the words global and warming? Global is associated with peace. It’s associated with things which are unchanging and beyond human powers. Things which are nearly universal. What about warming? Warmth? Comfort? Do we really want people to associate global warming with universal peace and comfort?
Greens and environmentalists trying to stop global warming are, by translating their own words:
“Naive, greedy, sick, envious people with no experience who are dangerously unhinged and out of control, trying to stop everyone, throughout the world, being warm and comfortable.”
That’s not what other people say about them; it’s the message they are giving out about themselves, translated from their own words.
We need to find a new positive language with mass appeal which embodies the love and care for the natural world we need to spread.
On that note, here’s a Squirrel: