Washburn

Two Unmentionable Words

I was in Salt Lake City some time ago and was advised sotto voce that it would be unwise to voice a certain term. In Kansas it’s just not done either, a local explained. Bruce Katz, who heads the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute no less, suggested less offensive words. These unutterable words? Climate change. In large swaths of the country, bullying by climate-change skeptics has made these words unsuitable for use in civil discourse. “They just start arguments,” people have told me. “People can’t get past those terms. You’ll never reach them,” say most others. I am chagrined. This makes my new book toast in certain parts of the country: The Agile City: Building Well Being and Wealth in an Era of Climate Change (more here). Mothers, shield your children’s ears! The term has problems. After all, climate change happens to be highly inconvenient amid an economic meltdown while American fighting forces are busy in three countries. More important, getting beyond the term is essential to help people connect with solutions and see benefits. Read the rest of this post at author's blog _______________________________ James S. Russell is the architecture columnist for Bloomberg News. He has written about cities, architecture, and environmental design for more than 20 years.