9 Phrases Like "Climate Change" The White House Doesn't Want You To Use

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It sounds like the energy inside the White House has been tense ever since Donald Trump took office. And part of that tension, no doubt, has to do with the fact that the president of the United States appears to be a climate change denier, while most of the rest of the world accepts climate change as known and proven fact. And now, POLITICO reports that some in the White House have climate change terms they don't use for fear of earning the wrong side of the president's attention.

POLITICO reports that staff in the Department of Energy's climate office were advised against using the phrases "climate change," "emissions reduction" or "Paris Agreement" in written communication. And while a DOE spokesperson denies that any words have been banned in the office, the news outlet cites other anonymous sources at DOE and the State Department who feel otherwise. One told POLITICO, "People are taking their own initiatives to not use certain words based on hints from transition people. Everyone is encouraged to finding different ways of talking about things."

With a climate-change denier influencing how the country's highest governing body talks about climate change, the potential of shifting the national discourse into an anti-environmental and anti-science one is huge. There are certain words and phrases that we can't just let fall to the wayside. Here are just some to remember to keep on the tip of your tongue.

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Carbon Pollution

Carbon pollution: there's just no way to make that sound good. But it's how we got here in the first place, and that's why we should keep talking abut it. Regulations on carbon pollution and emissions are some of our best defenses against the type of extreme weather and other negative effects caused by climate disruption. And as recent news shows, curbing carbon pollution doesn't stop economic growth.

Clean Energy

A January DOE report shows that solar energy alone employs more than double the number of people than oil, coal, and gas combined. And despite Trump's above prediction, turbine use is still growing. "Clean" and "energy" both evoke their own sort of power; together, they're impossible to spin. If anything we should be calling fossil fuels "dirt energy". Feel free to also use "renewable energy."

Climate Change

For some reason in the U.S., it needs to be said over and over again that there is a scientific consensus that climate change is happening and it is definitely caused by human activity. With that in mind, just never, ever stop talking about it.

Climate-Change Deniers

People who deny that climate change is real or caused by human activity are just that: deniers. They are not "skeptics." Bill Nye is a skeptic. Acknowledging the denial: for some it's the first step in grieving for the planet. Hopefully then they can move on to climate-change acceptance and response.

Climate Science

What we know about climate change is backed by science. Don't let that be forgotten. See "Clean Energy" for those for whom the economics are more important.


Our natural resources are precious. Using "conserve" when speaking about the environment, instead of terms like "capitalize," "reap," or "utilize," in regards to fossil fuels emphasizes just how precarious of a position the earth is in right now.

Energy Waste

Trump has talked about wastes of time and money in the past, so we know that waste is a concept he can understand. Can we use that to our advantage? Keep talking about waste in terms of energy and natural resources to really drive the point home.

Global Warming

Global warming and climate change are different. But the above still stands. There is a scientific consensus that global warming is happening and it is definitely caused by human activity.


If there's one thing I'm sure Trump hates it's admitting vulnerability. But doing so actually shows a lot of strength. The fact is the earth's climate is changing, humans caused it, and humans are vulnerable to it. Ignoring our earth's and our own vulnerabilities haven't served us in the past. Time to make "vulnerability" a main part of your climate change vocabulary.

The list of words we need to preserve during the Trump administration goes on and on, but here are some to keep in mind as the debate over our response to climate change continues. And though the tone and rhetoric of that debate may change over time, it should be informed by facts rather than, as Trump might say, "weak."