Social Question

josie's avatar

Why change the terminology from Global Warming, to Climate Change?

Asked by josie (30926points) September 12th, 2015

Since there is skepticism about the entire issue anyway, it seems the Cassandras would have a better chance of selling the notion if they called it Global Warming.

It sounds sort of sinister, invoking notions of sunburn, parched deserts and such.

Climate Change on the other hand sort of makes people want to go “Duh”. The climate is always changing. The Great Lakes were caused by glaciers that have been gone for millennia. Tell me something I don’t already know. Big deal.

I think it could be a marketing problem.

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57 Answers

dxs's avatar

Because everything isn’t just about “warming”. It’s about drastic changes, like hurricanes, odd weather patters, hotter summers and harsher winters.
Hope this helps!
-Cassandra xoxo

longgone's avatar

There has not been a change in terminology. I discussed this issue with a man who’s studied our climate for four decades. He taught me that climate change is the result of global warming. The term points to the fact that there are many ways things could go, once we’ve done nothing for long enough. Right now, the Earth is getting warmer. When the cumulative effects of melting ice result in even higher water levels, the planet will react. Our climate is as precious as it is fragile, and seemingly unimportant changes can have a huge impact. Currents may change direction, ill-equipped species will make way for others, plant life will suffer, the make-up of our atmosphere might change. We don’t know what exactly will happen. We do know it’s foolish to adopt a “wait and see” attitude.

Bill1939's avatar

Global warming is the engine that is redirecting weather patterns, bringing deluge and drought to areas that until recent decades were free from these catastrophes. Warming oceans increases the power of hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons. The increased temperature of land feeds the forces of tornadoes and cyclones. The product of global warming is climate change, which is far more important than warmer summers.

syz's avatar

Because every time it snows, some idiot throws a snowball and says that he can disprove “global warming”.

DoNotKnow's avatar

It’s already been explained above that there was not a change – they refer to two specific things, and therefore both terms are necessary.

But are you looking for a better way to frame this so that the general public takes it more seriously? I’m not sure the terminology being used is the problem. The facts are that global climate is changing, global temperature is warming, and there is a scientific consensus that a large contributor to this is burning of fossil fuels. This is not in dispute.

Given this fact, would the general public be more willing to take this seriously if every time someone talked about this, they referred to it as “anthropogenic climate change”? I suspect it wouldn’t. Just like we have a religious-based machine in the U.S. whose effort is to oppose science (evolution), we have a well-funded one that wants to pretend that the jury is still out on climate change and humans’ contribution. It’s a purely anti-science effort, and one that is rather effective. In a thread from yesterday, someone hit all of the key confusions (including confusing climate with weather, and “global” with “U.S.”).

cazzie's avatar

There isn’t skepticism. Only willful ignorance.

Cruiser's avatar

It’s all about the money. Al Gore started this whole mess with his Global Warming campaign and made millions. When the global warming deniers called him out and Al and his cohorts realized the gig was up….they shifted gears towards climate change and now keep on making millions and millions of buckaroos. Since the term ‘climate change’ is so malleable…Al and all the other climate change hysterics are like Teflon…no critics argument can stick. Genius!

LostInParadise's avatar

Global Warming sounds alarmist and also as if it may just be temporary. Climate Change sounds like something that is going to be around for awhile. Melting glaciers? Rising oceans? Record droughts? Hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy? Welcome to the new normal, and it is only going to get worse.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Cruiser The one statement you have correct is that it’s all about the money. Exxon, BP, Shell, Coal companies, and polluters have been raking in hundreds of billions of dollars over the years, while externalizing their costs onto society, and especially future generations.

The arguments don’t stick because they don’t pass scientific scrutiny. The only people who are saying it’s not real either have billions of dollars on the line (e.g. the Koch brothers), or watch Fox News and think it’s actually journalism. If a scientist could prove conclusively that global warming/climate change isn’t real then they’d be as famous as Einstein, Newton, Jane Goodall, etc.

Cruiser's avatar

@gorillapaws It is near impossible to argue against your conjecture about billionaires profiting from climate change…I even made the same argument here….but I and many people I know don’t buy into this climate change charade and we do not have billions in the bank or any other reason to buy into climate change chiefly because we do not believe the BS arguments the proponents of climate change champion. If that earns me the title of denier…I will wear it with pride. I’d rather have that than to be amongst the masses that continually take things at face value. I am not easily swayed by emotional hysteria that sorely lacks factual basis AKA BS.

cazzie's avatar

@Cruiser sniffs too much glue during the day.

Darth_Algar's avatar

It doesn’t matter ether way because you’ll still have goddamned, willfully ignorant shitheads who don’t understand the difference between weather and climate, and who this whole thing started when Al Gore made a movie a few years ago, despite the fact that it’s been discussed for several decades now.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Cruiser “but I and many people I know don’t buy into this climate change charade and we do not have billions in the bank or any other reason to buy into climate change chiefly because we do not believe the BS arguments the proponents of climate change champion.”

Do you (and the many people you know) watch Fox News and think it’s actually journalism? Those billionaires have a vested interest in promoting misinformation via ads and through media partnerships.

As far as evidence goes: This might be a good place to start. And just to preempt an argument that there is a giant international conspiracy among climate researchers, remember that any scientist who can conclusively disprove anthropogenic climate change would be famous and insanely rich. There is plenty of motivation to disprove the consensus, the facts simply don’t support that conclusion.

Consider yourself informed.

Also, being a capitalist like myself, how do you feel about cost externalization? If it was proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to your satisfaction, do you think it’s ok for companies to externalize their costs onto others?

DoNotKnow's avatar

@Cruiser – Is it just climate, or do you find that your beliefs generally do not correspond to the science? What about evolution?

Inara27's avatar

@Cruiser, science is right whether you belive it or not. It’s not even influenced by money.

msh's avatar

First two answers- Bravo!
There’s less guilt with words such as ‘climate change’
Why politicians like the way it feels dripping off their tongues.
Euw- the visual that just created…ick.
For those with a conscience…
How many different ways are there to say; “We’re Screwed”?

Kropotkin's avatar

I’m pretty sure you’ve had this explained to you before, @josie.

Firstly, the terminology has not been changed. “Global warming” is still used. “Anthropogenic global warming” is used. “Global warming” and “climate change” are both used widely in various articles, publications, and in the scientific literature.

Global warming refers to the objectively measured and observed rise in temperatures in the Earth’s climate system. We have satellites that very precisely and accurately measure the Earth’s energy budget by measuring the radiation that comes in from the Sun, and what goes back out into space. There is a net increase in this energy. The Earth is retaining more and more energy. This is unequivocal and indisputable.

Climate change refers to the longer term shift in weather patterns as a result of the Earth retaining more and more energy. These are also easily observed. The weakening of the Gulf Stream causing more extreme and sustained swings in temperature over different latitudes. Insects migrating north as their habital zones change. Agricultural zones shifting. Changing frequencies and levels of droughts and precipitation. Changing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

I do actually agree with you in one respect. I think climate change does cause some confusion, and is “less scary” than global warming. It’s exactly for this reason that Republican strategist, Frank Luntz, suggested that “climate change” be used instead of “global warming” by the Bush administration. It was the Republican administration since 2002 that stopped using “global warming”.

kritiper's avatar

It has always been, and is first and foremost, “climate change.” Somebody later used the term “global warming,” they still use it, and so many use it instead of the proper term “climate change.” Global warming says only one thing: warming. It is climate CHANGE, which means it might get hot and it might not but what is/was considered normal will change.

Kropotkin's avatar

“It’s all about the money. Al Gore started this whole mess with his Global Warming campaign and made millions. When the global warming deniers called him out and Al and his cohorts realized the gig was up….they shifted gears towards climate change and now keep on making millions and millions of buckaroos. Since the term ‘climate change’ is so malleable…Al and all the other climate change hysterics are like Teflon…no critics argument can stick. Genius!”


Al Gore didn’t start global warming. The Industrial Revolution started global warming.

“Climate change” was popularised by right-wing deniers, and not Al Gore. It was Frank Luntz that sent a memo in 2002 to the Bush administration suggesting that they use “climate change”—and they did.

Whether Al Gore makes millions from global warming or not does not change the reality that global warming and climate change are real, and are existential threats to human civilisation.

Cruiser's avatar

@gorillapaws and everyone else that thinks I am a half wit…some heavy hitters of the world agree with me that climate change is BOGUS!

Nasa is considered a leading authority on the science of anthropogenic global warming, and the space agency employs numerous experts in the field of climatology to research climate change. However, one of NASA’s former scientists recently said he no longer believes in climate change, claiming the term is meaningless.

Greenpeace founder of all people also says climate change is bogus!

Time for y’all to find some other myth to hand wave over….seriously!

dappled_leaves's avatar

Since there is skepticism about the entire issue anyway

Nope. Not accepting your premise.

“I think it could be a marketing problem.”

Your many, many, many questions on this exact topic show that it’s not a marketing problem. You’re an inquisitive sort, but you refuse to accept what scientists know and have told you to be true: that global climate change (or global warming, if you prefer) is a real, anthropogenic phenomenon. Would you accept it if it came with snazzy commercials and a catchy jingle? Of course you wouldn’t. Denial runs deep.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Cruiser You’re making an invalid argument from authority.

In the case of Professor Woodcock, the former NASA scientist, he’s not only claiming that there’s no climate change, he’s also asserting that there’s been no rise in atmospheric CO2. Unfortunately, this is so absurd that it beggars belief. CO2 has been measured, and it’s rising linearly at a near constant rate. It’s at the highest levels it’s been in 100s of thousands of years.

And your Greenpeace “founder” (he was an early member, not a founder) Patrick Moore, appears to be a paid shill for the logging, mining, and nuclear energy industries. Other than his baseless assertion—just like Woodcock’s—he’s not provided anything that refutes anthropogenic global warming.

Referring to authorities is fine, but those authorities also have to have actual arguments that refute or support whatever is it that’s under contention.

Just dropping names of people you think are experts, without any regard or scrutiny for their arguments or lack of them, is simply fallacious.

You’re going to have to do a lot better.

majorrich's avatar

I remember in the ‘70’s the same scientists were planning to spread ashes over the ice caps to fight Global Cooling Dont see a lot about it on the interwebs because it wasn’t invented yet, but there ya go. There will still be people who remember that nonsense. (And believe you me, we called it nonsense) There wasn’t the internet to spread the pseudo science and get the libs all stirred up.

Kropotkin's avatar

@majorrich Only a minority of scientists were predicting global cooling, and this prediction was a reasonable inference based on increasing concentration of aerosols at the time.

If you want to avoid pseudo-science and misunderstanding of science, then I recommend not relying on

majorrich's avatar

Just a convenient site citing some examples of the hairbrained shit I remember from that decade. Probably before many of you pups were born. They were all ready to do the ash thing.

Cruiser's avatar

@Kropotkin If you think I am/was making an invalid argument from authority, then if you are so sure how can you defend OR attack @gorillapaws comments?

Kropotkin's avatar

@majorrich Most research papers were still predicting warming. The “cooling” hype was largely a media concoction. So, no—“they” were not “all” ready to do the ash thing.

majorrich's avatar

Were you there?

majorrich's avatar

I sense a ‘No But’ coming.

majorrich's avatar

Definitely a ‘No But’ coming. Here it comes. Look out!

majorrich's avatar

Then a personal attack to divert attention

Kropotkin's avatar

@majorrich I don’t need to be there. Just as I don’t need to have been around in the 1800s to know about the US Civil War, or Napoleon’s conquest of Europe.

Since you’re so eager and excited by this exchange, here’s an actual research paper with actual data showing the actual numbers of climate related research papers through the 70s.

“The survey identified only 7 articles indicating cooling compared to 44 indicating warming. Those seven cooling articles garnered just 12% of the citations. Graphical representations of this survey are shown in Fig. 1”

majorrich's avatar

told ya. No original thought. Only one research paper. No response required.

Kropotkin's avatar

@majorrich Told me what? I’ve just presented a refutation.

I already knew that most research papers in the 70s were predicting warming, and the few that predicted cooling were based on a reasonable inference about the effect of increasing aerosols.

I then give you a research paper which goes into more detail for you to explore.

If you’re not interested in learning, then that’s your prerogative. Can’t make a horse drink and all that…

Kropotkin's avatar

@Cruiser gorillapaws linked to a study showing that an overwhelming number of peer-reviewed research papers support climate change. Each one of those thousands of research papers adding to the body of knowledge and supporting evidence of AGW.

You linked to two news articles about supposed authorities with contrary opinions.

Spot the difference?

majorrich's avatar

Did I ever say I espoused the notion of Global Cooling? What we are dealing with when it comes to Macro climactic changes amounts to the proverbial blind men describing an elephant. The collection of data is short term when it comes to geologic time and any of thousands of factors could be used to explain or refute any argument that can be thought up. And believe you me, DuPont has a ton of grants banking on it. I happen to know one of the authors (Peterson) of the paper you cite. He also said roughly the same thing about small pieces of a large puzzle in his lecture series. At the time of it’s (cooling’s) writing Climatology did not really exist as a science of it’s own and was mostly a bunch of us rockheads (Geologists) curious about the cyclical nature of sedimentary rocks. What I am trying (probably unsuccessfully as age sometimes dulls the memory) to say is I don’t believe Climatological study has enough data (a couple hundred years) of data to support with absolute certainty what has been and will happen over millions of years. Theories will abound and flavor of the week science with cherry picked data will support anything until we get a grasp on a unified understanding of all the factors impacting the lower 20 miles of our atmosphere. And, pretty much all of the papers on any side I’ve taken the time to read. Not many since I moved on from Geology to Military sciences were all peer reviewed.

cazzie's avatar

@majorrich Geologic and ice core data is not short term. You should know better, having studied geology.

Cruiser's avatar

@Kropotkin No I did not and do not spot the difference. If I had infinite minutes to spend debating this topic with you or anyone…we would endlessly spar over erroneous scientific misinformation and links or otherwise we believe one ups each other. Believe what you want to believe….I will believe what I want to believe and that said I hope you have a great day today. BTW….I just now had to turn the heat on in my house because it is so damn cold out and have never had to do that before November ever….God damn Global warming!

cazzie's avatar

I’m sorry your WEATHER is cold this time of year. But you don’t seem to know the difference between your weather and climate.

Cruiser's avatar

Gee whiz @cazzie….now you make me feel so stupid….can you help me better understand the difference between climate and weather??

cazzie's avatar

I’m not going to waste my time on willfully ignorant people.

majorrich's avatar

Geologic and ice core data is why we started looking in the first place. I mist have stuttered when I typed.

Kropotkin's avatar

@Cruiser There is no debate. It’s as boring as “debating” with a flat Earther or a Creationist. I get involved because the denialist propaganda really rubs me up the wrong way. This is a serious issue, and it is being turned into a mockery.

Denialist points are so trivially wrong or logically malformed that they take little to no effort to refute. You’re literally denying the most basic physics. The sad part is is that denialists like you and josie and countless others don’t even know when you’ve lost the argument.

You really summed it up with your “I will believe what I want to believe”. I don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change because I want to, but because of the weight of evidence compells me to—and some pretty basic laws and concepts in physics.

cazzie's avatar

Just as well science doesn’t care if you believe in it or not. I’ve had the honour of sitting at tables with some of the most renown scientists in the field of hydro engineering and hydrodynamics, atmospheric research, as well as people who have been honoured by the King of Sweden for their work in water research. I’m not basing my thoughts on some movie made by an American politician.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Cruiser “Believe what you want to believe….I will believe what I want to believe and that said I hope you have a great day today.”

I WANT nothing more than to hear some scientist has found verified, incontrovertible proof that anthropogenic global climate change is false. Unfortunately, I’m compelled to believe what the EVIDENCE SHOWS. It’s not about what I want to believe at al. I’m not a climate scientist, and so I’m forced to use my critical thinking skills and evaluate the evidence to the best of my abilities. When 97% of 4000 peer-reviewed articles written over decades all have roughly the same conclusion, then I have little choice but to agree with their findings. It would be nice/convenient to be able to just ignore/wish that evidence away and live my life in willful ignorance, but my brain doesn’t allow those types of contradictions.

Out of curiosity, what WOULD be sufficient evidence to change your mind?

Cruiser's avatar

@gorillapaws articles written over decades is where you and I part ways. I base my understanding of climate whatever on the evidence of hundreds and thousands of years of climate/weather scientific studies and from that view I see nothing more than a climate trend and nothing to get my undies in a bunch over as I comfortably sit on my deck with sweat pants and hoodie when I should be wearing shorts and a tee shirt.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Cruiser Just for clarity, are you saying that you’re basing your opinion on scientific studies WRITTEN hundreds and thousands of years ago, or are you saying they are modern studies that cover climate from thousands of years in the past? If it’s the latter, please note that it is my understanding that studies included the paper I referenced include ice core studies that examine the atmospheric composition back to 100,000’s of years ago.

Cruiser's avatar

@gorillapaws I am basing my opinions on core data as well and according to these core samples and CO2 readings a lot can be gleaned from the data contained from them. What the scientists who are much smarter than me have said is that 10,000+ years ago you could be ice skating outdoors in Orlando….and since then it has wavered between very hot to very cold and I see no reason what so ever to expect our climate to stop this ‘trend’ anytime soon. I know there are many more immediate things to get excited over than the climate….like the Bears vs the Packers game today. Enjoy your day!

Inara27's avatar

@Cruiser, of course the climate has changed before and it will change again. The concern is that it is changing at a rate never seen before and in conjunction with CO2 emissions from human activity. Because any solution will take a long time, we must recognize the problem and being both mitigation and prevention.

There was a story about two squirrels, one who prepared for winter, while the other enjoyed his fun and games…unlike that story, here both squirrels will suffer the consequences. Enjoy your distraction from reality.

Cruiser's avatar

@Inara27 You and I can say whatever we believe and that doesn’t make it scientifically sound unless you have the data to back it up. To say the climate is changing at a rate like never seen before to be true really needs empirical data to be so. I just can’t jump on board with climate changers all because of a few decades of cherry picked data points. Our lifetimes of fluctuating weather will amount to nothing more than a climate trend.

cazzie's avatar

My father in law was the renown scientist Dr. Torkild Carstens. I was able to attend conferences with him and see him speak in front of groups concerned with natural conservation, invention of new green power sources like the program he over saw at Hammerfest with the underwater turbines, as well as preparation for climate change in places that were fast experiencing more harsh conditions of flooding due to climate change, like in Bangladesh. Two years before his death he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award by his world wide colleges. It was my honour and privilege to accompany him to the conference in Finland to receive his award. He often spoke that there would be a war in the future not created by borders, but for the pursuit of fresh water.

cazzie's avatar

and I also feel I need to add that when I mentioned a chemistry term in another thread, another poster on this thread seemed more than surprised that someone here, particularly a female, would know what that term was. @Cruiser yes… I know chemistry and a few other scientific disciplines. and Yes, I am a woman. Try not to act so surprised.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Brian1946's avatar


”...underwater turbines….”

Would those use underwater flow to generate power?

Response moderated
Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@cazzie Relax, we know you are one of the sharpest jellies on here. You don’t have to prove anything to me.

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