Published On: Thu, Jun 1st, 2017

Weather and climate

The climate change discussion is about changes in long-term averages of daily weather.

To add to the confusing  "global warming" and  "climate change," are also used as interchangeable terms.

Global warming describes the average global surface temperature increase from human emissions of greenhouse gases; only one measurable element is used, temperature.

The first use of the term, global warming, was in a 1975- Science article by geochemist Wallace Broecker of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory: "Climatic Change:  Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?"

Earlier studies of human impact on climate had called the phenomena "inadvertent climate modification."

Many scientists accepted that human activities could cause climate change.  Whether the change would be a cooling off, as was predicted in the 1990’s, or a warming up (2003), was unclear.  Industrial emissions of tiny airborne particles called “aerosols” might cause cooling, while greenhouse gas emissions would cause warming. Nobody knew which effect would dominate.

So the term, "inadvertent climate modification," was used. It was an accurate reflection of the state of knowledge.

The first decisive National Academy of Science study of carbon dioxide's impact on climate called the Charney Report, published in 1979, abandoned  the term "inadvertent climate modification."

"If carbon dioxide continues to increase,” Charney concluded, “no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible."

In place of “inadvertent climate modification,” Charney adopted Broecker's usage of "global warming,” when referring to surface temperature change while continuing  for the many other changes  the term, "climate change."

Scientists have done a tremendous disservice to themselves and the world with this whirlwind of confusing terminology, giving birth to a growing constituency of so-called climate skeptics.

The Paris Agreement of 2016, signed by 197 countries, is trying to limit global warming by curtailing  CO2 exhaust.

In his most recent reply, USA-President Trump is talking about the changing weather as natural phenomena. His referral in the global warming debate is nonsense. The President of the United States and does not seem to understand the differences in terminology.

By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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