2011-08-02 08:04:33Can anyone come up with examples of climate change induced vocabulary changes
John Cook

This is something Tom and Don might like for climate bites. Was reflecting on the fact that Glacier National Park will one day be glacier free. Will they have to change all the maps and signs to Glacierless National Park. Similarly, permafrost is by definition permanent. No longer. Will we have to rename the phenomenon tempofrost? Not-so-permafrost?

These are good examples of the profound changes induced by climate change but also useful for injecting some humor into talks/conversations. So was wondering if anyone can think of other examples where climate change has rendered obsolete old terms/phrases/titles.

2011-08-02 08:51:55
Dana Nuccitelli

Not a great example, but "conservatives", at least in the USA, are about as disinterested in conserving the environment and climate as imaginable.

2011-08-02 09:24:00


I think some of the religious conservatives would disagree.

2011-08-02 18:04:52
Paul D


Deniers already use names and language to make their case. The classic one is the use of Greenland.
One of the problems with words and language is that people tend to keep the old names even though they no longer have a meaning linked to an occupation, place etc.

Hence we still have Smiths, Wrights, Coopers etc.
We do have some Hackers, but for a different reason!
We don't have names like George Developer or Sandra Analyst.
It is partly due to the tradition of passing on names to following generations and for a greater part that tradition sticking, although not always.

So will Snowdon (means 'Snow hill' in old English according to Wikipedia) ever be called something else??
Probably not, it will fade into a 'mythological' perception of the past and people will tell stories about it being covered in a white substance in the winter. It is probably already seeing less snow as the years go by.

2011-08-02 21:16:58


- "Hacker" might be an old German word for "butcher": "Hackfleisch" = chopped meat

- I knew an Indian marketing manager named "Carl Engineer". I have no idea how he got that name. It was a problem when I needed to reach him at a Boston hotel, and they kept sending me to the hotel's "engineer" (probably some sort of technician). It was very funny but tedious: "No, I'm trying to reach someone with the strange last name of "Engineer", he's a GUEST in the hotel ..." Didn't work.

2011-08-03 02:02:11
Paul D


That's a good point Neal.

Some cultures do use modern words as names. Possibly more so in Africa???

2011-08-03 02:05:20
Paul D


And there is Jon and Dan Snow in the UK.

Jon Snow presenting Channel 4 news (and a keen cyclist).
Dan Snow his son presenting history programmes.

Wonder how they got that surname??

2011-08-03 06:00:15
Same Ordinary Fool


Joe Romm once [Aug 17, 2010, "Global weirding: Naming climate change disasters after the deniers"]  reposted a Peter Gleick article on this topic, on Climate Progress, here

The best suggestions were in the comment thread, which is no longer available.

Curiously, I was able to find this blogpost by Googling something I knew to be in that lost comment thread:  "Bush Bay":  where Louisiana used to be.



2011-08-03 07:40:08That list of named climate disasters is actually worth re-posting!


It reminds what I was thinking about as a fitting punishment for the mass-murderer in Oslo: Create a cross-cultural (preferably Muslim/Christian) peace movement, and name it the "Anders Behring Breivik Islamo-Christian Reconciliation Movement."

Hang a plaque just outside his cell - forever.

Best non-violent revenge, ever.

2011-08-05 08:26:13


Will Mont Blanc become Mont pas de Blanc ?

I thought I'd share this in passing -

Every science creates its own terms.  Physics has its 'charm' and 'quark'.  The most whimsical term in geology appears to be 'roche moutonnée'.  Using the noun as a verb, Jean de Charpentier came up with 'muttoned rock'.  Those rounded grey rocks that look like so many sheep lying on a hillside were named not just for that appearance, but more so for the fact that de Charpentier thought that they resembled the mutton-fat plastered wigs worn in his day by judges.

2011-08-05 08:40:11
Andy S


Well, Iceland may have to rethink its name but maybe Greenland may not have to.

The big glacier on the back side of  Mont Blanc Gris may have to change its name from Mer de Glace to Merde, Hélas.

The Everglades in Florida, after a 5m sea level rise will become the Neverglades.

And if melting icecaps eventually cause a change in the axis of rotation, then Ecuador will have to consider a name change.