Language adapts to extreme change. How is English normalizing the effects of global warming? Will terms like hundred-year flood become poetically nostalgic?


“Anthropocene,” popularized just this decade, is already a familiar term. Culture leads language, but language can lead culture. For example we may wonder if global climate disruptions are being worsened by the use of the palliative “climate change” rather than more disturbing terminology.

Our consociates at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS) at Rice University interview The Guardian contributor Robert Macfarlane. They consider how to label today’s buried toxic wastes to warn the civilizations of a distant future, the extinction of vocabularies, oceanic plastics, shifting baseline syndrome and humans’ relationship with ice.

This podcast is the 100th episode of “Cultures of Energy.” If you’re new to their show the “A” segment will give you a laid-back opportunity to get to know the hosts, Cymene and Dominic, before the interview begins at 14:00.

Then settle in for an hour of wide-ranging erudite discussion. Post comments about it on your favorite social media using the sharing buttons on this page.