Saturday, 21 June 2014

Global Warming or Climate Change?

What's in a name?

These terms are often used interchangably. I think there is a difference, and I've tended to use climate change for two reasons. First, politically global warming seems to have taken a lot of flak and climate change seems a little more neutral. Global warming has been attacked and was famously banned from the White House. I imagine using climate change will lead to less knee-jerk reactions and has more chance of getting through to people.

Second, climate change is more scientific.

"Warm" seems to be a bit vague, and often rather nice, while potentially global warming is neither. Also "warm" refers to temperature, and there are all those confusions between temperature and heat.

During reports of record snowfalls on Fox news, the announcer was saying that Al Gore must be feeling really stupid now. Of course, colder weather is a very likely part of a warmer planet when you start looking at the heat of the system, and the way that heat moves around, or stops moving around.

You can even see this on a very small scale if you're in a hot room and have a glass of water with ice in it. The water is pretty much staying the same temperature, but that's because the ice is melting. The ice is also staying the same temperature, since the melting bits of it are no longer ice, but there is less and less of it, and the amount of heat in the system is increasing. When the ice is completely gone, the water temperature will start going up. Interestingly, the level of the water will not go up in this experiment, but if you had Antartica and Greenland in your glass, with the ice on top of them, then you may be in trouble.
The weather reporters know all this, since they were awake in the physics lessons at elementary school, but increasingly weather is getting reported on the news where scientific ignorance is almost a qualification for the job.

It turns out I may be completely wrong about using climate change. A report by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication suggests that global warming is associated with greater certainty, scientific consensus and understanding that humans are involved, at least on the political left. And everyone, left and right, seems to associate global warming with a greater sense of personal risk.

So I'm adding a tab for Global Warming. This translates into Japanese 地球温暖化 (chi-kyu on-dan-ka, literally Earth-temperature-warm-ification) or usually just 温暖化 (ondanka, warming). They have no need for another term!

Read more from nasa
And Climate Outreach UK

I think I heard this first from On The Media
The picture of the glass and the table (representing Antarctica and Greenland) is from