Global warming by any other name is still a problem

In Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet Juliette, in love, thinks that whatever name you give to things, their reality remains the same. She says of her lover, Romeo, that although he comes from a rival family, whose name is hated in his own family, “What we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet. ” This may be true in romance or poetry, but more prosaically in Britain in recent days we have had several examples of renaming or renaming the reality of our lives to make things a little sweeter. And – unfortunately – they are not. Changing the name, label, or definition of an issue does not change the issue.

Take for example global warming and the definition of a “heat wave”. The BBC recently published a report on how rising temperatures are changing what is defined by the UK Met Office as a ‘heatwave’. It is “when an area experiences daily maximum temperatures reaching or exceeding a certain level for three consecutive days”. But that “certain level” has now been increased by 1C in eight counties across England, as climate data shows “undeniable warming” in the UK.

Changing the definition obviously does not change the facts. The same goes for the coronavirus. The pandemic is still with us. Cases in the UK have reached record highs, with almost five million of us – 1 in 13 – testing positive for the virus. It’s inconvenient for all the obvious reasons, but also because the UK government has decided to no longer offer free lateral flow tests and has changed official advice on self-isolation, as if coronavirus doesn’t shouldn’t be considered worse than a cold. But hospital admissions for coronavirus patients have reached record highs in Scotland and have increased across the UK. We now have 166,000 deaths at last count.

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Anecdotally, I know more people with coronavirus in the past week than at any time in the past two years – my neighbors, my friends, my family and (last week) even me, for the first time. British politicians can be forgiven for their lack of virology expertise, but should not be forgiven for not listening to the experts.

Instead, some politicians say the coronavirus is now endemic rather than pandemic, which means – like the common cold and the seasonal flu – that we just have to get used to it. But redefining Covid-19 – like redefining a heat wave – doesn’t change the facts.

As Christina Pagel, director of the Clinical Operations Research Unit at University College London, points out: “endemic” is a word used by epidemiologists to refer to a disease that does not spread out of control in the absence of measures. of public health. The coronavirus could possibly fit that definition, but it doesn’t at the moment. Nor is it certain that this virus or any other virus will evolve to become milder.

Bereaved families celebrate one year of the National Covid Memorial Wall, in London, on March 29.  PAWire

Another case of renaming or redefining something in an attempt to change the issue is, inevitably, Brexit. In 2018, then British Prime Minister Theresa May suggested that after leaving the European Union, Britain could have what has been dubbed a Brexit festival, more formally the “Brexit Festival”. Great Britain and Northern Ireland” which would be a “national festival of celebration”. UK creativity and innovation”. It was supposed to be inspired by the Great Exhibition of 1851 or the post-war British Festival of 1951. The nickname “Brexit Festival” was given by the ardently pro-Brexit politician Jacob Rees-Mogg.

But everything labeled ‘Brexit’ in Britain has become synonymous with division, failure, new bureaucracies, rising costs and travel problems. For months, public opinion polls have shown that a majority of those expressing an opinion think Brexit was a mistake. Naturally, festival organizers insist it has nothing to do with Brexit. They now call it Unboxed.

But although the name has changed, the cost is still £120million. The festival started last month, although I sincerely doubt most Britons have noticed. It will last until October with attractions such as ‘See Monster’, a North Sea oil rig on display and ‘About Us’ a light projection ‘celebrating our connection to all that surrounds us – past, present and future”.

But wrapped, unwrapped, celebrating Brexit or not celebrating anything in particular, in a scathing report, Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the festival’s lack of clear direction was a ” recipe for failure” and an “irresponsible use of public money”. . The same goes for Brexit itself, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson once described as a “titanic success”.

Even so, Juliet’s lovely observation was correct. A rose by any other name does indeed smell just as good, but a bad idea or misguided policy probably won’t be improved by a bit of shrewd PR or a name change. A heat wave remains a heat wave. The coronavirus remains a major health hazard. Oh, and the Titanic sank at sea in 1912 after hitting the reality known as the iceberg.

Posted: April 06, 2022, 10:31 AM

Teresa H. Sadler