The climate of scientific reportage may be changing, especially for journalists covering issues on climate science.
In September this year, the Associated Press (AP) modified its style guide, particularly the entry on global warming. The AP expounded on the use of the terms "climate change," "global warming," "skeptics" and "deniers."
The alterations were based on what was more appropriate, more scientifically correct and more understandable to the public.
Climate Change vs. Global Warming: What's The Difference Anyway?
Following the AP Stylebook update, the terms "climate change" and "global warming" may be used interchangeably.
Climate change, however, is more scientifically correct to use when discussing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. It entails storms, rainfall pattern changes, extreme weather, sea level rise and ocean acidification.
Global warming, on the other hand, is simply the term the public understands better and is used more commonly, according to the AP.
Scientific bodies all over the world agree that the climate of the world is indeed changing because of carbon dioxide buildup and the burning of oil, gas and coal. However, despite opposition from numerous officials, a few climate scientists and the general public, the statement is backed by about 90 percent of peer-reviewed scientific papers.
Who Are "Climate Change Doubters?"
Another AP style update made in September refers to people who do not subscribe to the idea of climate science or those who disagree that the world is warming because of human intervention. For this, the editors decided to use "climate change doubters" instead of "skeptics" or "deniers."
Scientists who debunk pseudoscientific concepts and who consider themselves "true skeptics" say that the word "skeptic" should not be used to refer to non-scientists. The former believe true skepticism entails scientific and comprehensive investigation. Real skeptics prefer the term "deniers."
However, some think that "deniers" may be likened to the derogatory term "Holocaust denier." The AP then decided to call people who reject the idea that climate change is happening as "those who reject mainstream climate science" and "doubters."
Does This Reflect A Changing Climate In The Newsroom?
The move to modify the entry on global warming is part of the AP's efforts to make sure that news and media organizations that base their style guides on the AP Stylebook consistently employ accuracy and the correct usage of language. Behind these 2015 changes were AP science writer Seth Borenstein and stylebook editors Paula Froke, Sally Jacobsen and Dave Minthorn.
AP Stylebook changes are made depending on the terms' relevance to news reporting. The main goal is that reporters and editors present news that is correct, precise and clear.
The process of changing or adding terms into the style guide is regularly performed throughout the year. Changes are based on different resources for utmost guidance.
"No change is made lightly," the AP press release read.
With news coming in daily, new terms surface. While some neologisms last for a short period, others become part of common speech. AP staff make recommendations for new entries or revisions to existing ones, and coordinate with editors to ensure that the suggested terms are truly needed, spelled correctly and defined clearly and properly.