Africa: War of Words - the Language of the Climate Emergency


Climate scientists talk neutrally of a world that's 2°C, or 3°C, or 4°C hotter. Activists and journalists talk of 'catastrophe', 'collapse', and planetary 'emergency'. The apparent gulf between this choice of language is misleading. In reality, they're saying the same thing, just using the editorial 'voices' that are fit for purpose.

Is there a more horrific way to die, than to burn alive?

If anything put the sternum-punch back into the climate story, it must be the photograph of the charred body of a joey - a teenage kangaroo - snared in the strands of a fence that blocked its escape from a raging wildfire during the recent conflagration sweeping across south-eastern Australia. In charred rigor, the young creature's pose betrays its brutal death: lips pulled back in what looks like an affable smile, front paws crossed demurely over its blackened chest. But as it rotted, its drying, crisped hide pulled "tight as a funeral drum", to borrow the poetry of Roger Waters.

Any creature with a brain, a nervous system, and a level of awareness will die with the same horror as this one did, as heat reaching 800°C singed its hair, melted its skin, and screamed through its...

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