[Coral-List] "Global warming" vs. "climate change."

Judith Lang jlang at riposi.net
Wed Jan 4 14:55:47 EST 2017

Hi Gene,
Although the two terms are casually related, they do have different meanings, at least in the scientific literature.
"Global warming “ refers to the long-term trend of rising average global temperature. 
I agree we should use it when referring to increases in seawater temperatures  and related bleaching events.

“Climate change” (or “global climate change”) can refer to all changes in global climate (including extreme weather and sea level rise) resulting from the increasing average global temperature OR simply to a long-term change in the climate of part or all of Earth.  
Perhaps we should be more specific and refer to "global sea level rise," or whatever it is we specifically want to describe.

Both terms have been in use for decades in the U.S., often interchangeably. However, In 2002 the Bush administration abandoned its references to “global warming” when advised that the term ‘climate change” was less frightening to the American public. (For this and some other successful anti-science tactics of that era, see https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2003/mar/04/usnews.climatechange <https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2003/mar/04/usnews.climatechange>).

Best wishes to all for many successes  in 2017,
Judy Lang
AGRRA Scientific Coordinator

> On Jan 4, 2017, at 12:47 PM, Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu> wrote:
> Do coral-list readers remember back when we all talked and worried about 
> global warming? As I recall that was mainly before the 1998 El Nino. 
> Then for about 20 years global temperature flattened somewhat and 
> sometime during that time global warming became “climate change.” As a 
> result of this change the subject became more confusing especially for 
> the public and coral biologists. Geologist, however, have always known 
> that climate has been changing. Such change is most obvious in 
> Pleistocene ice core records that clearly show periodic glacial and 
> interglacial (warming and cooling) periods as well as concomitant CO_2 
> ups and downs. Beside ice core data recent melting of glaciers of course 
> is undeniable evidence of warming. So why is it called “climate change” 
> instead of climate warming? And of course we have all seen the decline 
> in coral reefs. My 56-year photographic record in the Florida Keys 
> dramatically show coral demise began in the late 1970s and culminated in 
> the early 1980s. Unfortunately the reefs have experienced a downhill 
> slide ever since.
> We have all worried about how to get our message to the public and 
> decision makers. We have not done a good job of it. I suspect the term 
> Climate Change has made communicating with the public more difficult. 
> The problem is we have used the term Climate Change almost 
> interchangeably with CO_2 /Methane and greenhouse gases. As a result the 
> whole complex subject has become emotional economic and political. 
> Emotions are so strong that if one questions whether CO_2 is the cause 
> he or she is labeled a “Climate Change Denier.” Why not CO_2 or Carbon 
> denier? These arguments must be very confusing to nonscientists. So when 
> a politician calls Climate Change a hoax does he or she really mean 
> temperature has not risen or fallen in the past 100 years or do they 
> mean that they do not believe CO_2 and other greenhouse gases are the 
> cause? These become difficult questions when we don’t clarify what we 
> mean. Regardless what skeptics may believe they are nevertheless branded 
> climate deniers and compared to those who believe the Earth is flat. 
> Good scientists have always been skeptics regardless of the subject.
> The recent election has multiplied our concerns and postings on the list 
> continue to confuse global warming with climate change. The term Climate 
> change logically means temperature can go down as well as up. So why 
> can’t we just say what we mean? To make the subject even more confusing 
> many have begun to say carbon is the major cause of warming when they 
> should be saying Carbon dioxide. As scientists we like to see evidence 
> based on a controlled experiments. Those are experiments where we treat 
> X number of organisms with varying amounts of a substance B, and compare 
> results with X number of subjects not treated with substance B. I 
> realize that’s old-fashioned scientific proof but it is straightforward 
> and even the most ardent skeptics can understand the results.
> Unfortunately we cannot perform these kinds of straight experiments. We 
> lack reference planets the same distance from the sun as earth to serve 
> as a reference. What we have done is show experimentally in the 
> laboratory (as did Svante Arrhenius back in 1896) that raising CO_2 
> levels increases adsorption of infrared radiation and thus raises 
> temperature. We then infer (note I said infer) that CO_2 also raises 
> atmospheric temperature as it does in laboratory experiments.
> We know the computer climate model outputs are mathematically correct 
> but do we really know they accurately replicate nature? A little bias 
> one way or the other can influence the outcome. One should also be 
> suspicious because many models (there are more than 20) is that while 
> CO_2 has continued to rise since 1998 global temperature did not rise at 
> the rate predicted by most models. The public and many politicians are 
> often reminded of these problems so it is no wonder that many are 
> confused and remain skeptical. I am confused as anyone. The message in 
> the  Australian youtube does not clarify the problem for most of 
> us..<https://www.youtube.com/embed/BC1l4geSTP8> I suggest we drop the 
> term climate change and say what we mean-----global warming.Gene
> -- 
> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
> ------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
> University of South Florida
> College of Marine Science Room 221A
> 140 Seventh Avenue South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158
> ---------------------------------- -----------------------------------
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