[Coral-List] Expert Disagreement in Climate, Science - reply to Gene Shinn

Booth, Charles E. (Biology ) booth at easternct.edu
Wed Jan 11 13:53:17 EST 2017

Dear Coral Listers:

I attempted to submit this last Friday, but I never saw it appear (if it did, I missed it and it was ignored!). As Gene Shinn’s comments are still generating responses, I will take the liberty of trying again to chime with a terrestrial perspective (and a slight rewording of what I wrote the first time) - if my comments did appear and were ignored for good reason, I apologize:

Gene Shinn (Coral-List Digest, Vol 101, Issue 3 )concluded his commentary on the use of global warming vs climate change by saying:  "I suggest we drop the term climate change and say what we mean-----global warming."

The use of global climate change instead of global warming is quite straight forward, and not at all nefarious or deceitful:

The rationale for the terminology change was addressed in a NASA.gov blog (among other places - I just happen to have this reference handy):
What's in a Name? Global Warming vs. Climate Change, by Eric Conway

In addition to the direct effects of rising temperatures on organisms, the terrestrial climate is clearly changing - timing and amount of precipitation, temperature extremes and means, wind patterns, etc,- which is altering animal and plant communities in various ways, e.g., the timing of biological activities (phenology) such as  leaf fall, new leaf emergence, flowering, insect reproduction, initiation of migration, mismatches between animal population increases and the availability of their food supply (e.g., insect larvae and the plants they feed on; hatchling birds and their insect food) and mammals whose seasonal change in coat color is now out of synch with the onset of winter or snow melt in the  spring. These impacts been well documented, for example:

Visser ME, van Noordwijk AJ, Tinbergen JM, Lessells CM(1998) Warmer
springs lead to mistimed reproduction in great tits (Parus major).Proc R
Soc Lond B265:1867­1870

Willmer, P. (2014) Climate Change: Bees and Orchids Lose Touch. Current
Biology  Volume  24, Issue 23 pR1133­R1135, 1 December 2014

Mills,L.S. Et al. (2013) Camouflage mismatch in seasonal coat color due to
decreased snow duration  PNAS 110(18): 7360-7365

Gils, J.A van et al (2016) Body shrinkage due to Arctic warming reduces red
knot fitness in tropical wintering range.  Science  1Vol. 352, Issue 6287,
pp. 819-821    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6287/819

Huey, R.B. et al. (2010) Are lizards toast?  Science 328: 832-833

Gene is correct that the fundamental issue is global warming. However, rising temperatures alter  climate, and climate is what terrestrial animals and plants respond to. In that respect, the term “global climate change” is more informative than “global warming."

Chuck Booth

Dr. Charles E. Booth
Dept. of Biology
Eastern Connecticut State University
Willimantic, CT  06226

Ph:  860-465-5260 (office)
FAX: 860-465-5213
Email: booth at easternct.edu<mailto:booth at easternct.edu>

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