Terms like ‘human security’ try to catch the attention of an audience and to catch the user’s own attention; in other words they aim to stimulate and motivate. Having caught attention they try to organize it: they link to a perspective, a direction for and way of looking. Having caught and organized attention, they aspire to influence or even to organize activity: they provide frames for work. Such terms and the frameworks that they mark seem though to often come and quickly go, to rapidly rise and fall in international usage. A few terms become established but in the process often change or lose meaning. How important, persuasive and durable is a ‘human security’ framework likely to be? I will suggest, firstly, that a human security perspective promotes some necessary prerequisites for serious discussion of issues in global ethics. Prior to entry into any of the detailed debates in global ethics come a series of related choices about how we see ourselves and the world. First, how far do we see shared interests between people, thanks to a perception of causal interdependence, so that appeals to self-interest are also appeals to mutual interest. Second, how far do we value other people’s interests, so that appeals to sympathy can be influential due to interconnections in emotion. Third, how far do we see ourselves and others as members of a common humanity or as members of a national or other limited social community or as pure individuals: is our prime self-identification as interconnected or separate beings? This prior set of perspectives determines our response to proposed reasoning about ethics and justice. Adoption of a human security perspective can influence, even reconfigure, how we see ourselves and others and our interconnectedness, and thereby reconfigure how we think about both ethics and security. Secondly, with specific reference to issues of global climate change, I will suggest that the necessary transition in predominant societal perspectives and personal life-styles needs a language or languages of transition that make vivid and meaningful what is at stake, that unite and motivate groups committed to change, and that persuade enough of those groups who could otherwise block change. If we look at the value shifts identified as necessary by the Great Transition work we see that human rights language and the capability approach’s ‘development as freedom’ while potentially important are not sufficient. By themselves they are too potentially individualistic and compatible with visions of self-fulfilment through unlimited consumption and exploitation of nature. The emphases required—on human solidarity, stability and prioritization; prudence and enlightened self-interest; sources of richer quality of life, felt security and fulfilment; and ecological interconnection that demands careful stewardship—seem to be more fully present in human security thinking. It can be one of the languages of transition.