When some states are still getting snow in April and temperatures are still sub-freezing in others, you can practically hear the smug gloating of climate change naysayers as they titter on sarcastically about global “warming.”
For those who actually pay attention to the facts — 2001-2010 was the warmest decade on record and each of the 12 hottest years on record have come in the last 15 years — it's easier to grasp the concept that the planet is gradually warming up; but that along with the rise in temperature come other extremes, such as unusual cold snaps and blizzards in spring.
For this reason, there has been a movement to use the term “climate change” instead of "global warming." Although the end result is a warmed globe, the fluctuations that occur during the process have many impacts.
“What we have is more extremes,” Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy, told CBS. “Severe drought would be an impact, severe flooding would be an impact, straight-line winds would be an impact, more forest fires would be an impact, rising sea levels would be an impact,” he said. “So warming doesn’t describe all the impacts.”
Meanwhile, the Fox News set asserts that "liberals" switched from "global warming" to "climate change" when they (the "liberals") realized the planet wasn't really warming up. Ah, the Fox logic. In fact, it was Republican consultant Frank Luntz who advised Republicans in a 2002 memo to use the term "climate change" because "'climate change' is less frightening than 'global warming,'" reports Media Matters.
The term "climate change" has been used in scientific literature for decades, at least as far back as 1970, as evidenced by a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled, "Carbon Dioxide and its Role in Climate Change."
But in general, scientists use “global warming” when discussing the overall increase in global temperatures; they use “climate change” when referring to the other impacts that greenhouse gas emissions are causing. Which has led to some confusion.
It seems this distinction is too nuanced for some of the general public to grasp, which is why the more-inclusive “climate change” may be a better choice.
Or as Noble has suggested, "how about ‘climate chaos’?”
Related climate change stories on MNN:
- Climate change arguments explained
- 8 ways climate change can kill you
- How to discuss climate change with your uncle