You say tomato, I say global heatstroke

“Global” is a harmonious-sounding word, and “warm” sounds as snuggly as a soft blanket and hot cocoa. So maybe there’s a better phrase to convey the potentially disastrous effects—fire, drought, flood, famine, disease, death—of a planet that’s heating up.

At least that’s the idea behind ecoAmerica’s notion to rebrand “global warming” into something more like “our deteriorating atmosphere,” according to a story in the New York Times. Based on polling data and focus group sessions, the nonprofit environmental marketing firm said, there are many other eco phrases in need of makeovers because, frankly, people just aren’t getting it. For instance, they suggest substituting “pollution reduction fund” for the confusing “cap and trade,” or talking about “moving away from the dirty fuels of the past” rather than “carbon dioxide.”

Those phrases may not be terribly snappy or ever catch on, but recent polls have shown that many people are not getting the message about climate change, are becoming desensitized to phrases like “global warming” or simply do not place it among their high priorities.

For instance, a Gallup poll in March asked about 1,000 adults how worried they were about eight environmental problems. “Pollution of drinking water” placed first, with 59 percent worried a “great deal” about it. “Global warming” came in dead last, with 34 percent worried a great deal and 40 percent worried “only a little/not at all.” And a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in January found, not surprisingly, that the economy trumped all other policy priorities for those polled. And again, global warming was the least important priority for those in the survey. Only 30 percent rated it a “top priority,” while 85 percent rated the economy as their highest priority, followed by jobs, terrorism, social security, education, energy, Medicare and others.

Of course, the effects of climate change typically come slowly, often noticed in single-digit degrees, while the loss of a job, home or health is felt immediately.