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Is “Global Weirding” here?

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"Is “Global Weirding” here?"

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Humans are warming the globe and changing the climate. But what should we call it?

Tom Friedman has a new column, “Global Weirding is Here.”  He mentions my new effort to post summaries of “the best scientific papers on every aspect of climate change.”  Readers interested in that project should click here.

If you want to know more about me or this website, start with “An Introduction to Climate Progress.”  You can get daily email updates on climate science, solutions, and politics by clicking here.

Friedman spells out why he suspects “China is quietly laughing at us right now” and why “Iran, Russia, Venezuela and the whole OPEC gang are high-fiving each other”:

Of the festivals of nonsense that periodically overtake American politics, surely the silliest is the argument that because Washington is having a particularly snowy winter it proves that climate change is a hoax and, therefore, we need not bother with all this girly-man stuff like renewable energy, solar panels and carbon taxes. Just drill, baby, drill….

Nothing better serves their interests than to see Americans becoming confused about climate change, and, therefore, less inclined to move toward clean-tech and, therefore, more certain to remain addicted to oil.

He urges the scientific community to get its act together, but understands that nothing that’s happened has changed our deep understanding of climate science.  Unlike many in the media who write on this, he knows that there is no equating the few small mistakes of those who are striving to study, understand, and articulate the science and “the errors and wild exaggerations made by the climate skeptics.”

He restates his key thesis for action irrespective of what one believes on climate change:

We will import less oil, invent and export more clean-tech products, send fewer dollars overseas to buy oil and, most importantly, diminish the dollars that are sustaining the worst petro-dictators in the world who indirectly fund terrorists and the schools that nurture them.

What I’d like your input on is his first point:

1) Avoid the term “global warming.” I prefer the term “global weirding,” because that is what actually happens as global temperatures rise and the climate changes. The weather gets weird. The hots are expected to get hotter, the wets wetter, the dries drier and the most violent storms more numerous.

The fact that it has snowed like crazy in Washington “” while it has rained at the Winter Olympics in Canada, while Australia is having a record 13-year drought “” is right in line with what every major study on climate change predicts: The weather will get weird; some areas will get more precipitation than ever; others will become drier than ever.

Personally, I’ve never been thrilled with the term “global weirding,” mainly because “weirding” carries the connotation of “related to the supernatural” — with the origin of the word “weird” being  “Middle English werde, fate, having power to control fate, from Old English wyrd, fate.”

There is nothing supernatural about what’s going on, and we don’t need any supernatural powers to control our fate.

Still, some people are using the phrase — and what’s happening does appear weird.  For instance, as Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist at the Weather Channel, explained in his discussion of Georgia’s record-smashing global-warming-type September deluge:

Usually during that month when there’s wild weather, including precipitation extremes, it’s as a result of a hurricane or tropical storm. Not in 2009.

Just last month we had “The most powerful low pressure system in 140 years of record keeping” slamming the Southwest. Uber-meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters explained that the storm was “truly epic”:

We expect to get powerful winter storms affecting the Southwest U.S. during strong El Ni±o events, but yesterday’s storm was truly epic in its size and intensity. The storm set all-time low pressure records over roughly 10 – 15% of the U.S.-over southern Oregon, and most of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.

Global weirding has certainly hit Eastern Australia (see Dust Bowl-ification overwhelms Eastern Australia “” next stop the U.S. Southwest).  As one scientist explained, “this drought is the first of its type, because we’ve never had droughts which have been so hot.” (see also Australian Scientists: “there are indications that climate change has worsened this recent drought.”)  That’s why I call it a “global warming type” drought (see Must-have PPT: The “global-change-type drought” and the future of extreme weather).

And while extreme weather events were predicted to become more common by climate scientists, nobody predicted that climate change would drive a bark beetle infestation that is now devastating the West, leading to massive wildfires that release huge amounts of carbon dioxide, in an unexpected carbon cycle feedback (see Oldest Utah newspaper: Bark-beetle driven wildfires are a vicious climate cycle“).

GLOBAL WARMING VS. CLIMATE CHANGE

Some of the desire for a different phrase is the perceived inadequacy of “global warming” and “climate change.”  Since the warming is slow (at first) and happening faster in some places than others, we’re still going to get cool weather — especially in winter (!) — and many of those who do climate messaging fear that undercuts those who use “global warming.”

Others believe “climate change” is more scientifically accurate, but too bland.

Amazingly the anti-science Heritage Foundation recently offered this piece of amazing revisionism:

No snow, too much snow. It does not matter to the enviroleft crowd. For them, global warming always is to blame. That is the whole reason the movement made a deliberate decision earlier this decade to stop calling it “global warming” and start calling it “climate change.” That way they could expand the universe of terrible things they could plausibly blame on global warming.

Let’s set aside the fact that “too much snow” has one main cause (lots of moisture in the atmosphere, but, typically, weather that isn’t too cold) whereas “no snow” can have an entirely different cause (too warm) — both of which can be influenced by human emissions of greenhouse gases (see Massive moisture-driven extreme precipitation during warmest winter in the satellite record).

Heritage’s claim is, unsurprisingly, almost exactly backwards.  They apparently didn’t even read their own link, which goes to a 2008 essay by the Bush Adminstration’s NASA titled “What’s in a Name? Global Warming vs. Climate Change.”  That essay noted the Union of Concerned Scientists, which is typically thought of as a pro-environment group, was still using the term “global warming.”  As the article explains it was scientists like Wallace Broecker and later Jule Charney (who chaired the “first decisive National Academy of Science study of carbon dioxide’s impact on climate” in 1979) who brought focus to “climate change”:

Its first use 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?”

… Charney adopted Broecker’s usage. When referring to surface temperature change, Charney used “global warming.” When discussing the many other changes that would be induced by increasing carbon dioxide, Charney used “climate change.”

Just how opposite-to-the-truth is Heritage’s claim?  It was GOP strategist and wordmeister Frank Luntz who counseled in a confidential 2003 memo that the Administration and conservatives should stop using the term “global warming” because it was too frightening:

It’s time for us to start talking about “climate change” instead of global warming and “conservation” instead of preservation.1) “Climate change” is less frightening than “global warming”. As one focus group participant noted, climate change “sounds like you’re going from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale.” While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge.

I myself often use Hell and High Water, since that is a more accurate description of what is to come.  But it didn’t catch on [note to self -- get over it already!] and, in any case, that phrase is more aimed at describing the world post-2040 if we don’t get off of our current emissions path.

EcoAmerica wanted to use the lame phrase ‘our deteriorating atmosphere’, but that was primarily a way for them to not talk about the subject at all.

Frankly, I don’t care what term you use as long as you talk about what’s happening and the science behind it:

We are engaged in a multi-year messaging struggle here.  The planet is going to get hotter and hotter, the weather is going to get more extreme.  One of the reasons to be clear and blunt in your messaging about this is that even if you don’t persuade people today, the overall message will grow in credibility as reality unfolds as we have warned.  To shy away from telling people the truth because they don’t want to hear it or they think it’s liberal claptrap is just incredibly un-strategic.  Some groups, like EcoAmerica, doesn’t want people to talk about “global warming.”  And “” even worse “” they don’t want people to talk about extreme weather, which, as I have previously argued, is in fact the same thing that the climate deniers want “” see “Why do the deniers try to shout down any talk of a link between climate change and extreme weather?”  You must tell people what is coming, not just because it is strategic messaging, but also I believe because we have a moral responsibility.

One final point. The warming, weirding, and change we’ve seen so far is from a little over 1°F rise in global temperatures in recent decades.  If we listen to the anti-science do-nothing crowd and keep on our current emissions path, we face 10 times that warming this century, which is gonna make whatever weirdness we’ve seen appear rather mundane.

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100 Responses to Is “Global Weirding” here?

  1. john atcheson says:

    Although it’s clunky, I like the phrase “Human-induced Climate Extremes.”

  2. Chris says:

    I gotta be honest…I hate Friedman’s idea. It’ll conjure up images of witchcraft and junk science. It’s likely we’ll be asked if we’re all enrolled at Hogwarts or something similarly snarky.

  3. Bill Waterhouse says:

    I agree Joe. “Weirding” sounds too unscientific. “Climate chaos” is the best two-word term I’ve seen. “Catastrophic climate change” or it’s abbreviation “CCC” is a possibile nominee.

  4. David Smith says:

    Climate Chaos

  5. MarkB says:

    Problems with each term

    Global warming – Since its impacts include sea level rise and more extreme precipitation events (which can fall as snow in winter), while not eliminating weather variation, the term allows deniers to use local cold or snowy weather events to “refute” it

    Climate change – Deniers can play the “climate has always changed” card, which is technically true. They can also use local cold weather events to falsely assert that this term is now used because it’s not warming. Indeed, the term is too soft to describe what’s been going on in recent times.

    Global weirding – The term is too unscientific, and, well, just weird.

    I still somewhat prefer “global warming”. It’s factual. It’s strong enough. It describes the heart of the problem. While cold (or snowy) weather event is going to allow some folks to be easily duped into not believing this term, I think educating the public on the difference between weather and climate, regional vs global, and the projected and observed impacts of global warming is key. When deniers highlight cold weather somewhere, show them the global anomaly map of recent weather. Then show them the global anomaly map of the recent year, decade, and century trend. Show them the increase in extreme precipitation events (U.S. climate extremes index is one place to start).

  6. fj2 says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene

    We are in a period of anthropocenic collapse.

    Guess when it will end.

  7. Sam says:

    Climate Strangeness, Climate Weirding–should have climate in it.

    Completely agree on weather, but how challenging do you think it is that we have a serious problem with weathermen/women: http://www.cjr.org/cover_story/hot_air.php

  8. SecularAnimist says:

    Friedman’s “weirding” shtick is about coming up with something cute that he can fill up column space with, and get invited on talk shows to talk about. It’s not about communicating the nature of the problem, it’s about promoting Tom Friedman.

    If you want to be accurate, then the accurate phrase is “anthropogenic global warming and consequent climate change”. Warming causes climate change. Climate change is an effect of warming. It isn’t hard to understand.

    [JR: He didn't coin the term. Some credit it to Paul Hawken. Friedman gets on talk shows ok already, I think. Something pithier than what you propose is probably a good idea, though, no?]

  9. Chris Dudley says:

    The problem with the warmonger’s choice is that the phenomena are normal. More snow in a warm year is normal. A stronger hurricane when the sea surface temperature is high is normal. An extended drought when wind patterns shift is to be expected. More damage from drought when it is hotter would be strange if it didn’t happen. Loss of snow pack in a warm year is what always happens. The sad thing is that it is all too predictable and yet we have not yet moved to do something about it.

  10. SecularAnimist says:

    There is too much effort spent (wasted) on worrying about how to communicate with deniers.

    There are two basic categories of deniers:

    (1) Deliberate liars
    (2) Dupes of the deliberate deniers

    It doesn’t matter what you say to the deliberate liars. They already know they are lying. They don’t care. They are lying for money — in some cases, LOTS of money. They are not going to stop.

    And it doesn’t matter what you say to the dupes. They are weak-minded, ignorant, mean-spirited Ditto-Heads who have been brainwashed by decades of the phony so-called “conservative” media to believe every bit of idiotic, hateful drivel that Rush Limbaugh spoon-feeds them, and to reject any and all information offered by “liberals” (ie. everybody other than the phony “conservative” media). Any ability that they may once have had to assimilate new information and think about it independently, has long since been destroyed. They are little more than radio-controlled drones.

    Stop worrying about how to “argue” with the liars and their dupes. It is an exercise in futile time-wasting.

    The best thing to do is to simply, and relentlessly, point out, over and over and over again, what they really are: LIARS AND DUPES.

  11. PSU Grad says:

    At a recent budget meeting of our local Lutheran “synod”, one guy said the term “climate change” was used because that way “they” can be right if the temperatures go up or down. It was seen as a weasel word-type term. And yes, I did correct them and told them the problem was real and listed some reasons reasons why. Don’t know if they were convinced.

    I don’t like the term “catastrophic climate change” because it sounds like a “dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria” type world. And then, when the sun keeps coming up every morning, it begins to lose its meaning.

    I’m not crazy about “climate chaos” for much the same reason, though it is better. It’s really weather chaos, the changing climate is simply inducing it. I see climate change as a more slowly moving process, and the word chaos doesn’t seem to work with something that’s slowly moving (as opposed to weather itself).

    I tend to agree with what someone said “somewhere” else. It doesn’t matter what you call it, people won’t catch on until there are several consecutive summers of record breaking heat, or consecutive summers of monster hurricanes.

  12. Van says:

    I agree that “Global Weirding” is not the right term, but I have to agree with him on one point. Make the explanations easy enough for a sixth grader to understand. While the deeper you get into climate science, the more complex it gets. the basic principles of GWT are easy to understand. If your making it for the general public, keep it simple. Very often these explanations descend into scientific wonkishness that makes even my eyes glaze over and I have a scientific background. Best to get science writers like the people who write for Science News or Scientific American. Or presenters like Bill Nye.

  13. burk says:

    Yes, all the terms so far are bad. Warming? That doesn’t sound so bad in winter time. Change? That is pretty anodyne, even a pillar of Buddhist philosophy. Weirding/Chaos? Inaccurate, since what is happening is warming, not chaos or up-and-down-ism, or anything else hard to understand.

    I’d recommend “Biosphere climate stress”. This puts the emphasis where it belongs-on the biosphere. We don’t care about the rocks warming, after all, but what rising and acidifying oceans will do to life, and ditto with other effects. And it focusses on the rate of change, not simply change itself. If all the life forms had a million years to adapt to these changes, it wouldn’t be so bad.

    I’d also point continually to the extinctions we have already caused- of North American megafauna, and, as recently outlined, Australian megafauna as well:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/327/5964/420

    To cause more is unforgivable.

  14. SecularAnimist says:

    JR wrote: “Something pithier than what you propose is probably a good idea, though, no?”

    Sure. I find that a pithy phrase that gets the point across to many people is “mass starvation”.

  15. prokaryote says:

    Loose of balanced Climate State?

  16. Dean says:

    Messaging isn’t going to solve this. In the end, it is building vs destroying. Building anything, including the scientific case for AGW and the political case to do something about it, is not easy. Attacking that case when you don’t need to build some other case will always be easier.

    Just like it’s easier for a minority political party to be the party of NO. Once they get in power, then they need to do something. The Deniers/destroyers don’t need to build anything. Most are happy to do nothing, and those who destroy the case while claiming to want to do something are their best allies and tools.

    Until AGW is intuitively obvious from people’s daily lives, the destroyers will have the advantage over the builders.

  17. max says:

    Climate crisis-conveys urgency. Weirding is very bad for the reasons Joe gave.

    Did even Republicans wait until the ozone hole covered the entire planet to act to remove the cause? Yet the ozone hole is harder to visualize than an Arctic that is ice-free in summer or a collapsing ice-shelf. Will we wait to act until President Palin is ousted and coastal real estate values collapse?

  18. Richard Brenne says:

    All the terms are fine and accurate. There is global warming. The climate is changing, and in chaos and there will be infinitely more catastrophic climate change than there has been, and there’s been plenty. Even global weirding is okay as an occasional adjunct. If Tom wants to use it, great! He’s an invaluable ally of our cause and the biosphere and we need him to write columns exactly like the one he wrote today.

    If Joe wants to be the only one in the history of Earth to use “Hell and High Water”, let’s indulge him! (Actually Joe I like it and kid.)

    Pick any or all of them, use any or all of them. What’s most important is to get the message out much, much more than we are with much more agreement, creativity and clarity in all mediums, all the time.

    Joe’s last two paragraphs in this post are just the kind of clear, concise, punchy communication we need.

    The right has formed an unholy alliances of countless industries, corporations, churches, movements and individuals to further the power of all, while the left bickers about things like names when they agree on 95% of the most important stuff. Let’s all stop bickering and work together!

  19. climate undergrad says:

    A consistent term would be really useful for promoting some decent media coverage. Buzz words get a lot of air time.

    Some credit should be given to “Global Warming Hoax” and “Climategate.” While scientifically and ethically challenged, they are consistent and pervasive.

    What about throwing the word unequivocal in there? I think that ‘unequivocal warming’ getting a lot more ear time could be effective messaging. It’s a personal favorite of mine…

  20. fj2 says:

    eco-calamity

  21. Martin Hedberg says:

    I prefer to call it “Changing the planetary energy balance”.

    Right now we have radiative forcing that warms as well as cools the ocean/ice/air/land. The bias makes the planet emit less energy than we receive. Energy is accumulated in the system Earth.

    It induces warming, changes in weather patterns, sea level etc. But changing the energy balance it is the basic phenomena.

    “Changing the planetary energy balance” is scientifically correct and it doesn’t contradict non-warm events (for example in the way sceptics use the US and European winter as an argument).

    Neither does it come in conflict with non-anthropogenic climate changes.

    It may be a bit too long as a phrase, but I am sure somebody will find a more compact way of describing it. Or one has to accept that we may need a few more letters to describe reality. This phrase or some else. The world is complex, let’s not simplify it to much. I could go for “Changing the energy balance”.

    As an alternative I suggest “Global change”, which has been used before.

    Best regards,
    /Martin

  22. mark says:

    I do not like “wierding”

    Why doesn’t someone with a lot of money hire a pr firm to figure this out?

    And while they’re at it, get the pr firm to help these climate scientists communicate with the average citizen, and try to get them to understand what they are facing in the typical reporter of today.

    What is badly needed, now, is a “how to speak to the media” course for these scientists, so that when they emerge from the halls of academe, to be confronted by the morons known as reporters, they understand who/what they are dealing with.

    Being fair minded, reasonable, “scientific” etc, is at this point, very counterproductive.

    climate chaos is better than “wierding”

    At least Friedman has a large audience, glad he gets it.

    And I have thought for a while that the Chinese are playing us, not committing to anything, all the while getting a huge jump in the clean energy field, while we wait for them to sign something before we get started.

    Very stupid.

  23. Richard Brenne says:

    During the time it took me to write #14 and bicker with my wife (When one admits to hypocrisy does that make them less hypocritical?) many addition good terms appeared.

    Yes, SecularAnimist, “mass starvation” is the ultimate effect and yes, Burk, “Biosphere climate stress” is very accurate, but there are many additional realities at play here, including what has been used and what has caught on and could catch on.

    Joe floated “Hell and High Water” and it might still catch on with more than the two of us.

    Brand companies, focus groups, social psychologists and other media experts could be brought in to discuss and think they decide this, but in the end the public decides all this.

    I think clear, concise, heart-felt, emotional, creative and accurate communication – ideally involving character and story, which is what our species responds to – is what is most important, using whatever names we’re most comfortable with.

    I like communicating that we no longer live on Earth, but Anthro-Earth. Earth is what we inherited, Anthro-Earth is what we’ve created. I’ve found that when people understand that concept, understanding climate change is easy. When they don’t understand that concept, it’s often difficult.

    One Great Ape has escaped the equator and grown its numbers and consumption so much that it has gone Ape.

    And no, not Bonobos. . .

  24. James says:

    Self Destruction

  25. cougar_w says:

    “Global weirding” is fine for casual conversation; we use around my house frequently, usually as a joke at the expense of deniers. But it is not an accurate enough term. I like “climate chaos” but it might sound a bit too extreme/alarmist for some fence-sitters, though those folk are probably critical of the science in general and will remain so.

    I really don’t have a problem with “global warming”. I understand the connotation sets up an easy knock-down argument during winter (haha! buncha rubes…) but that might just be the way it is. The globe is warming due to CO2 emissions and the physics of this are well understood even if the climatic implications are not, but these are different issues.

    Can we dumb this down into digestible sound bites without it becoming some kind of religion? I doubt it. The most challenging sequence of events in the history of our species is too big and moving too fast for our individual comprehension without a grasp of complex mathematics and atmospheric physics … and so … we are royally screwed. If that’s how it is and we are really that limited, then fine.

    Surviving generations will have a much better understanding of these things after the fact. It’s called a learning experience. They’ll also call it what they want based on their direct experience. They might call it “the catastrophic global inundation” or they might call it “the great destruction” or just “God’s displeasure” but they won’t be laughing derisively when they do.

  26. How about James Lovelock’s preferred term: “Global Heating” ?

  27. James says:

    Climate Regress

  28. MapleLeaf says:

    James @20, pretty much sums it up.

    How about “human induced climate change”? Or “Human induced global warming”.

    I personally prefer “anthropogenic global warming”, but somehow people insist on misinterpreting/obfuscating what one means by “global”. It means that the planet’s mean temperature is increasing.

    At the end of the day those in denial will figure out a way to distort and manipulate whatever term we use.

    PS: And yes, “global weirding”, IMHO, is a big no, no.

  29. Phila says:

    I don’t like “Global Weirding” in and of itself, and I also don’t think changing the terminology is going to help matters. It’s more likely to hurt, inasmuch as it seems like some sort of desperate response to the alleged lack of warming.

    Warming is what’s happening, and I see no reason to qualify or retreat from that fact. It’s not perfect, but neither is any other phrase. And the people who find fault with it will find fault with “weirding” or any other term we use.

    And again, I think it’s not such a bad idea to insist on it at a time when warming has allegedly stopped. The message here is that there’s more to scientific reality than what seems to be happening to the untrained eye.

  30. Steven says:

    “weirding” is rather ridiculous. It smacks tightly of Hunter S. Thompson blowing his brains out.

    Global Warming is just fine, as is global cooling. Or climate change. They are scientific enough. What needs to stop is pandering to anyone and the return of real science. We need to educate people on earth processes so they can think for themselves. I would guess the first thing scientists should do is to shun politicians completely, and offer only interviews to certain entities, and not respond to stuff from rags like the NY Post.

    I personally we should start by petitioning our government to make it mandatory to have at least one year of geology, or geology/geography before graduating high school. When I was in school studying Geophysics, it was appalling to me how few people understood simple things about our environment. Things like the water cycle and ocean currents.

  31. James says:

    Maple Leaf @23

    That’s pretty much where I’m at. I still use Anthropogenic Global Warming when discussing the topic. I’ve learned from years of discussing this issue that it doesn’t matter if you’re more factual, logical, reasonable, entertaining, witty, funny, sarcastic, smarmy, or forceful in your arguments. It doesn’t make a difference how pithy you are, or how well you argue your point.

    Because while we may be arguing a set of scientific realities, we are arguing against a worldview, and worldviews rarely change.

    Even if we came up with a two word phrase that perfectly conveyed everything associated with AGW, all we’d hear is:

    “Lolz. Their changing again! Those lefties can’t make up there minds!
    They gotz they’re pants in a wad again! Give it up ecohippietreehuggers!”

    But since I like wordplay:

    Global Meltdown
    Climate Shakedown

  32. ChicagoMike says:

    Friedman calls for the government to “produce a simple 50-page report…summarizing everything we already know about climate change in language that a sixth grader could understand, with unimpeachable peer-reviewed footnotes.”

    I think the government has done a pretty good job of putting out readable information.

    See here:http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basicinfo.html
    and here:http://www.globalchange.gov/publications/reports/scientific-assessments/us-impacts/download-the-report

    I don’t think one more report is going to change a lot of minds.

    As for how to label the problem, it might be better to focus on the positive and frame it in terms of “preserving a livable climate” or “averting climate disruptions”.

  33. Leif says:

    Terms like Global Warming, Heating and the like are only looking at about 1/10 of the visable “effects” as about 9/19 of the energy imbalance goes into heating the oceans of the world and melting ice. Consequently I prefer terms that incorporate the whole energy imbalance. Global climatic disruption, ecosystem disruption, global energy imbalance, etc.

    Just how much energy is the earth accumulating each day? The energy equivalent of ~190,000 Nuclear power plants worth of energy directly into the oceans, (90%) and air, (10%). Thus after all these years we have raised the earth’s temperature ~1C. However, just like a good battery, all that excess energy is still out there, (potential energy), as the ocean heat increase. Energy to evaporate more moisture to fall again as rain or snow in the winter. Energy to intensify storms. Energy to disrupt jet streams or even intensify Arctic out flow events.

    And that energy imbalance is growing each and every day.

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/02/15/the-climate-science-project-global-warming-is-happening-ocean-heat-content/

  34. MapleLeaf says:

    Thanks James (@30).

    This OT but NASA GISS just came out. They ranked January 2010 as the second warmest globally (tied with 2002), behind 2007 (first). 2005 was the third warmest January on record globally, 2003 fourth and 2009 the fifth warmest. Anyone see a trend? (sarc).

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

  35. Steven says:

    Leif, that is a good point. A very good point. Now, my question is, with these energy disruptions, will we see the onset of another ice age as snow accumulations persist? I think we should be more worried about how the earth will ultimately react to a warming trend, not the warming trend itself.

    Huzzah ! Now there is an idea !

    It is the ice age that kills humans.

  36. Chris Winter says:

    A little work with a thesaurus gave me a wide variety of terms that might be used. Here’s a selection:

    Emotionally neutral terms:

    Climate divergence
    Climate mutation
    Climate rift (meaning a break with the previous pattern.)
    Climate shift
    Climate variance

    These convey more of a sense of urgency:

    Climate calamity
    Climate cataclysm
    Climate chaos
    Climate chasm
    Climate convulsion
    Climate disruption
    Climate jolts
    Climate shock
    Climate upheaval

    If a less formal flavor is wanted:

    Climate creepiness (Creepy climate)
    Climate flakiness (Flaky climate)
    Climate foulness (Foul climate; Fouled-up climate) (FUBAR climate)
    Climate kookiness (Kooky climate)
    Climate oddness (Odd climate; Oddball climate)
    Climate spookiness (Spooky climate)
    Climate strangeness (Strange climate)

    I don’t like “Climate Weirding” for the reasons given (and because it reminds me of the dumb “weirding modules” in one version of Dune. But that’s just me.)

  37. Chris Winter says:

    Kudos to Leif (#32)! He’s given us what may be the best possible term. True, it’s three words. But so is “Anthropogenic Global Warming.”

    What if we call it “Global energy imbalance”? This conveys not only that the planet’s energy inflow and outflow are out of whack, leading to the long-term upward trend in temperature, but that we are using the wrong mix of energy sources and need to begin shifting to those that emit less carbon.

  38. Leif says:

    Just playing with the above numbers. The Energy Imbalance equivalent to ~190,000 Nuclear energy plants discharging directly into the oceans. That is almost 9 new Nuke plants a day coming on line each and every day for the last 60 years. And dumping their efforts into the ocean as well.

    Tell that to your GOP friends next time they mention New Nuclear energy production.

  39. Dennis says:

    I don’t like weirding. I found Friedman’s article dull. He missed an opportunity to set the record straight on a lot of highly visible matters, such as how trivial the “errors” in the IPCC report are in comparison with what’s in the entire report, or how so many pseudo-journalists have misrepresented the facts lately. Intead we have this stupid discussion abou what labels to use. Friedman’s audience is a lot more intelligent than this.

  40. PSU Grad says:

    I really like “Climate shift” and “Climate jolt”. “Shift” can be a bit ambiguous, but that’s exactly what’s happening as what used to be your climate will be shifting elsewhere, and someone else’s will be shifting to you.

    But there’s still too much getting wrapped up in the technical details. I was trying to think of other highly complex issues (at their root) that people can comprehend and came up with the space program and the Internet (bear with me).

    People don’t really how all the technical pieces of the spacecraft come together. During the Apollo days, they knew that there was a lunar module and command module and some really honking Saturn V that sent it all off. But mainly, I think most people thought “that….is….so….AWESOME!!!”. And we got velcro.

    Fewer still know how the Internet really works. They just know they fire up their browser, put in some address, and get something back. Again, there’s that “awesome”-ness, depending where you go. People get that. They don’t care how the bits and bytes got there and back, they just know something happened.

    Similarly, most people don’t care about the detailed workings of the atmosphere, they just want cause and effect. In other words:

    1. Big rocket spews lots of fire, guys go to the moon.
    2. I put an address in the browser, something shows up on my screen.
    3. Now make the same easily understandable cause/effect on climate change (or whatever you want to call it).

  41. James says:

    I think I get where you’re going here PSU Grad. We should call it the Super Spacetacular Intertron! *fireworks, explosions, guitar solo*

  42. Leif says:

    Which ever term is used, we should each take the opportunity to explain why that term is inadequate, why another might be better, and what the science is saying about all of the above.

    We are the teachers.

  43. David Smith says:

    Climate Deregulation

  44. PSU Grad says:

    James (#40): Unfortunately, it might take something like that. Except in this case, it might be the sight of an island being inundated by the sea (“Hello Maldives, you’re on the air”). And instead of “that….is….so….AWESOME”, the reaction is likely to be something more like “holy shXX!!”.

    I really wish it wasn’t so, but I’m seeing precious little evidence indicating otherwise.

  45. James says:

    It’s true PSU. Avoiding despair on this issue is one of the main reason I frequent this and other sites. Just seeing other people who care so much and are trying to do something, anything, is reaffirming.

    So while my brain says “Building Bigger Business As Usual (BBBAS)” will win out, my dumb heart still believes we have a fighting chance.

  46. Icarus says:

    I think ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’ is the best term to use. It says what’s happening (the planet is warming up), and why (we’re causing it) – many of the other terms don’t encompass both things. ‘Climate Change’, for example, is only half the story.

    Everyone knows the term ‘global warming’, and knows that it means ‘warming caused by human activities’ (even if they don’t believe it’s happening). What we really *must* avoid is dumbing down the science by trying to think of wacky things to call it. Dumbing down is partly what got us into this and other messes in the first place – we need to be going the other way, using sensible and meaningful words like ‘anthropogenic’ with the aim of trying to *raise* scientific literacy, rather than pandering to the dumbing down of society.

  47. cmc says:

    Ok, fine, but can we start labeling the “deniers” as “conspiracy theorists”? The concept that earth’s scientists, leaders, and weather stations are all secretly working together so that, like, Al Gore sells more books or something, is at least as outlandish as saying there was a second shooter in the JFK assassination, or that man never walked on the moon. I mean, at least the motives for a cover-up kind of make sense.. Building an igloo to mock Al Gore is not the act of a reasonable human being. It is the act of a paranoid kook. And seeing levels of snow never seen before, and concluding that this means the climate is NOT changing is not the process of a functioning human mind. It is the functioning of a mind sealed so deeply inside its own paranoia that nothing can get out or in. No, Jim Inhofe, Al Gore is not out to get you..

  48. Michael T says:

    I’ve heard some use the term “Global Climate Destabilization”.

  49. Neal Heidler says:

    Friedman needs to talk to his coworkers at the NYT re:the paper’s long history of not having a “serious discussion about the climate-energy issue”. Key here is the role of the NYT news and opinion writers in doing great and undeserved damage to the reputation of Al Gore. This began in earnest in 1999 with various NYT writers repeatedly inventing and regurgitating falsehoods (one of many e.g’s; “he created the internet”) about Gore that have contributed significantly to the facile, dismissive, “he’s a liar” sort of conventional “wisdom” about Al Gore. This has continued pretty much until recently/the present with blog posts by John Tierney, Revkin’s botched analysis of Gore’s one (supposedly) bad slide ( http://climateprogress.org/2009/03/02/al-gore-no-exaggeration-roger-pielke-andy-revkin/ ) , and reviews of Inconvenient Truth by William J. Broad ( http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/13/science/13gore.html?_r=2&oref=slogin ). These are the examples that I can think of right of the top of my head; there are many more.

    I would suggest that if it were a just world, Al Gore would be widely recognized as a thoughtful, serious and trustworthy spokesperson re: climate science, AGW and energy policy. Tell me Mr. Friedman, if you re-read the junk your paper has published about Gore (not to mention stuff about science on the Science pages, are you going to tell me that your paper is “serious” about conveying an accurate picture of what is happening with AGW and related topics?

    So we have someone who “should” be one of the most potent spokespersons (if not *the*) for climate scientists and smart energy policy who has been trashed repeatedly in the “paper of record”.

    We’ve seen the Heartland Institute’s climate conference receive uncritical coverage (each of the last two years, I believe), with no mention that there is no science there. We’ve seen Roger Pielke Jr. used as a source repeatedly. Tierney’s climate related blog posts were awful. We’ve seen Freakonomics authors and NYT bloggers Levitt and Dubner fubar climate science and geoengineering. If you are Roger Pielke Jr., Steve McIntyre, or even the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley you have a better chance of being treated as “serious” in the NYT than does Al Gore.

    Expecting these people to reform themselves or to change is, I think, unrealistic but I think discussing why this has happened and is continuing to happen is a serious topic that needs to be addressed. If Mr. Friedman can’t see that he needs walk down the hall and start a “serious” discussion among his colleagues what good is he and why would anyone give a **** what he thinks?

  50. slanted tom says:

    Fast-track climate change.

    But whatever we call it, the average person can see its effects by noting the increasing frequency of extreme weather events of all kinds. Record highs, record lows, floods, droughts, ‘unseasonable weather’, decreased crop yields and so forth are all indicators that climate is changing. Bad weather costs money and claims lives. Frequent bad weather weakens people and the infrastructure that people depend on. If you want to convince people that fast-track climate change is bad for them, show them the increase in extreme weather events. It’s not about temperature rise in the daily weather. It about incessant bad weather. Everyone knows what bad weather can be and do at their location. Everyone knows what it can do to them, their property, and their loved ones. Link frequent bad weather with this fast-track climate change and they will begin to appreciate the magnitude of the problem looming in their near future. Focus on the frequency of these events.

    Joe’s chart showing that in 50s record highs and lows were about equal but now highs are twice as frequent is exactly the sort of information that can get this across to the average person. But climate change affects many other parameters, more statistical analysis of extreme weather events please.

  51. Bill Waterhouse says:

    Re #16 from Max; query whether we would get the treaty to fix the ozone whole in the current poltical/media environment if that problem had just been discovered.

    “Climate shift” is a pretty good term. Not as bland as “change” but doesn’t overreach like “chaos.”

  52. Mark S. says:

    Climate Forcing??? Dino-forming?

    …meh. Everyone already knows “global warming” and/or “climate change.” I agree with several previous posters that it doesn’t matter that much what you call it since denialists will make fun of whatever name you come up with. For people on the fence, a name change would be perceived as some kind of slick marketing gimmick. The problem is not the trademark, but rather the incompetent/slanted media coverage that misinforms the public (not only on this issue).

  53. Lou Grinzo says:

    Definitely “climate chaos.”

    Or, if I’m really worked up and happen to be face-to-face with a militant denier, it’s “CLIMATE FREAKING CHAOS, YOU QUARTER-WIT!!!”

  54. David B. Benson says:

    Many fine suggestions! Don’t use the same wording repeatedly; shift from one to another.

    Climate ruination

  55. GFW says:

    Climate Destabilization

    (Yeah, I see Michael T (Tobis?) beat me to it by a few posts)

    Frankly, I’m with those who think “Global Warming” is a good enough term. But if we’re talking about climatic effects, then Destabilization is probably the best word to pair with Climate.

  56. Friedman is not helping here. It is climate change. Humanity needs to deal with climate change; mitigation and adaptation.
    Simple enough.

  57. Mark S. says:

    OTOH, funny/insulting names for denialists might be more useful, or at least entertaining.

    Hmmm…. denier = echo-logist, errorist/climaterrorist, wind-shill-factor etc.

  58. Sean Chamberlin says:

    I call it C3, Catastrophic Climate Change. Take a familiar term, C3 explosives, and make it resonate for us.

  59. Leif says:

    David Benson, #53: Climate ruination.
    How about, “Climate Urination”?

    Neal Heidler, #48: You are my man today.
    The NY Times reporting on “Global Whatever” has been appalling.

  60. colinc says:

    While there are some fine suggestions above, I think you all are missing a fully-coupled perspective. Crops are failing around the world due to extreme weather events and many locations are already facing extreme fresh water depletion, from both drought and ocean encroachment. I’ve seen estimates of “climate refugees” already totaling 100 million or more. It’s well documented (do your own “research”) that even if EVERY source of human-produced GHG were to cease today, the amount of GHG already in the atmosphere will continue to “warm” the planet for at least a decade or 2. Recent posts on ScienceDaily and PhysOrg state that the “permanent” southern boundary of permafrost in Canada has migrated more than 100km northwards and warmed ocean water is causing more sub-surface melting of ice in both Greenland and Antarctica than is “visible” above sea-level. It seems the “climate feedbacks” are already in motion and I sincerely doubt they are “reversible” by any of “our” actions. Therefore, I think it’s high-time we start calling it what it is. Even though this is from a rather lame movie, it fits. We ARE in the midst of an “E.L.E.”. That is, an Extinction Level Event. It’s been widely reported many places that the species-extinction rate is 10-100 times the “normal” level. By the events I’m seeing worldwide I have a high confidence that by 2100 there will be fewer than 10 million humans alive on this rock which amounts to 99.86% reduction in our numbers. Nature is telling us “Goodbye and good riddance.”

  61. Come on now, guys, it’s about time we all faced the god-awful truth.

    The deniers had it right all along: APOCALYPTIC GLOBAL WARMING

  62. paulm says:

    I think were at… Apocalypse Now

    or
    Climate Suicide
    Gaiacide
    Environmental Apocalypse
    Mass Extinction 6

  63. Leif says:

    But you know, if we start to do something we might just surprise our selves. “The longest journey begins with a single step.” If humanity makes it thru this self imposed “bottle neck” there is no doubt that societies will look and behave differently. Whether for good or ill, I believe the choice is still to be made. I am rooting for “Rational.” I would even accept “military” as long as it lived up to “Rational.” Society may have to go that way just to get the “tin-hats” on board and not throwing sand in the gears.

  64. Todd Tanner says:

    Climate Decline. It’s short, descriptive, somewhat alliterative, and it has a decent balance between “no need to worry yet” and “the end is near.” And to the best of my knowledge, it’s only been kicking around for about 5 minutes now. (I don’t think I’ve ever heard or seen this particular wording before.)

    Climate Decline.

    Maybe not as catchy as climate chaos, but you can say or write it without being branded an alarmist.

  65. David B. Benson says:

    Yup, all those other terms as well. :-(

  66. Barry says:

    “Climate change” causing “chaotic weather”

    I also agree with Richard (#17) that there is room for many terms. We don’t need just one. “Weirding” is fine for some folks to use, though I wouldn’t advise it for the general term that most use, especially scientists.

    I mostly use “climate chaos” but like the point that PSU Grad (#10) made about fact that “climate” is changing slowly in pretty predictable way. It is the extreme “weather” events (hell and high water) that are becoming unpredictable WHEN they will happen. Climate science says weather will get more extreme overall…but knowing exactly when these extremes will manifest, where, and in what combos is where humanity will find itself hammered by the chaotic nature of it.

  67. Michael T says:

    (#54) GFW says: “(Yeah, I see Michael T (Tobis?) beat me to it by a few posts)

    No, I’m not “the” Michael Tobis at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics. I believe that is the Tobis you’re thinking of. My last name is Trogdon. I just use my last initial instead of my full name. Although I’m not a scientist and not nearly as educated as Tobis is, I feel I’ve learned a great deal about global warming over the past few years and I’m only 20 yrs old. I think “Climate Destabilization” is a good term to use in place of GW or CC. It even sounds more sophisticated than “global weirding”.

  68. BillD says:

    The term “climate chaos” should be avoided, since it implies that the climate change in not predictable. On the contrary, one would like to argue that the long term trends are strong and predictable.

  69. Mark Shapiro says:

    Global warming, climate change, AGW, man-made warming, anthropogenic climate change — they are all fine. Global weirding — not so much.

    Tell folks to look out for more floods, droughts, storms, pests, crop failures, disease, and rising seas. Tell folks that they can chose between pollution, waste, and high risks; or health, wealth, efficiency, and clean air. We will spend trillions of dollars annually on energy, so why not the best?

    And can we please lose the phrase “saving the planet”? The rocks and dirt will be fine either way. We are only trying to save our cosy homes here on Planet Earth for our children.

  70. Mike#22 says:

    (Twenty years later), Thomas Friedman’s headline

    Global Climate Catastrophe

  71. Steve L says:

    If Global Warming is a subset of the effects of Climate Change as laid out by NASA (and others before them), then I think we should use the terms similarly to that (as per the link to “what’s in a name”). Science is important; scientists damage their ability to communicate when they adopt definitions of common words to mean different things; the public damages its ability to understand scientists when the public decides to use catchier but less precise terms than scientists.

  72. jyyh says:

    Given peoples tendency to exaggarate personally experienced events somewhat, I suspect this is not a once-in-300 years winter for NE strip that contains Washington, but the snowiest ever since man came to northern america, if a bit of exaggaration is allowed. Where do I get my huge grant for this publication?

  73. Leif says:

    Tom Friedman: I hope that clears it all up for you.

    I used Climatic Urination only half in jest earlier. It is my “today” favorite as I feel that is just how humanity will be thinking about Climate all to soon with business as usual. Climatic Urination captures the disdain that Climate has for humanities disruption and discomfort. I fear the daily weather will be merciless with it’s vigorous variability, both summer and also winter, when it is normally cold outside.

  74. Check out Climate Crossroads: A Research-Based Framing Guide. PDF (73 pages) at http://scp.earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/CLIMATE%20CROSSROADS%20GUIDE.pdf

    Two excerpts:

    “The following document is a first step towards a unified conversation on global warming. It is a summary of what is known to date about the most effective communications approaches, developed by drawing on more than 25 advocacy organizations’ experiences in the field, the body of research they built over the years, and new research conducted specifically for this project. This document identifies the ideas and values that will lead to public support for global warming advocates’ shared objectives over the long term, and suggests ways to bridge from specific policy concerns to the broader, shared narrative. It provides vetted text both to provide a common language and to inspire new words and phrases that illustrate shared themes. It is the authors’ intention that this document will inform, shape, and enhance the conversation with citizens and leaders and spark new thinking among advocates about how to best advance the shared goal of addressing global warming.”

    “Note: In keeping with this guide’s goal in helping communicators make more informed choices, it is recommended that they choose the term “global warming” over “climate change.” While both terms are flawed, the former is preferable in several respects —- for discussion, please see The Stakes” (pp. 32-35).

  75. Chandra Vikash says:

    CLIMATE SICKNESS

  76. Richard Brenne says:

    These are all great ideas. I think these names and concepts can and should be communicated. Just as there is no silver bullet of energy, I don’t think any one of these names or concepts should be used to the exclusion of the others.

    In our NASA-sponsored on-line Global Climate Change class, we emphasize the carbon cycle and how out of whack humans have made it. CO2 in fossil fuels has been sequestered in the Earth’s crust for hundreds of millions of years and we’ve extracted and burned a high percentage of it, releasing the CO2 into the atmosphere in just hundreds of years, actually half of that probably within the last few decades.

    In weight the amount we release every two and a half minutes is about the weight of the largest cruise ships. If we could see the CO2 as actual cruise ships in the atmosphere (of course many millions) the concept would be easier for people to get.

    So we’ve wrecked havoc with the delicate carbon cycle, throwing it out of balance. So your CCC could also stand for Carbon Cycle Chaos. (By the way, this then includes ocean acidification, which most other terms don’t. As Joe posted, back in December NOAA Director Jane Lubchenco testified to Congress that ocean acidification was “Climate change’ evil twin.” I’d say that those two together with species loss and resource depletion are the evil quads of their evil parents, overpopulation and overconsumption.)

    At the core of the problem is monospeciesiation, meaning our one species is changing everything (moving more Earth around than all other geologic forces in I believe a given year, according to an article in Science a year a half ago), including the atmosphere’s chemical composition. No single species has done that since the first organisms that ultimately expelled enough oxygen to convert the atmosphere from one without oxygen to one rich with oxygen.

    When I took my 90-year-old mother to the Disney film “Earth” that featured cheetahs, polar bears and lions and then looked up the estimated populations of each in the wild and found that they averaged around 22,000 each, I realized that for every one of each of those species, there are over 300,000 of us. That would mean one of each of these three species in an average major league baseball stadium where every other seat was taken by a person, which of course leads to the question about what a lion, cheetah and polar bear are doing at a baseball game and further whether they were able to get tickets to sit together.

    And not only are there so many more of us than any other large mammal, or all large mammals put together, but our per capita impacts globally are undoubtedly more than those of the largest elephant, and in rich countries and especially America they’re more than those of the largest dinosaur who ever lived. That’s about as sustainable as Glenn Beck in an atmospheric science PhD program.

  77. LT says:

    GLOBAL CLIMATE DISRUPTION or CLIMATE CRISIS – definitely not “global weirding”.

  78. pete best says:

    It should be climate warming.

  79. David Smith says:

    It should include the word “Global” as in Global Climate De-regulation, identifying the focus on the entire planet. This lack of reference has been the cause of much misunderstanding in the debate.

  80. Chris Dudley says:

    What might capture the situation would be “Exxon’s evil global war on all that is good, true and just in the world.” It is not only the damage to the planet and our people on a physical level that has been wrought but also damage to our democracy that corruption of even the search for truth causes. The greed of a few energy companies is the greatest threat to our way of life that we face right now.

    This is not weird. It is a predictable consequence of giving soulless entities legal rights and limiting their owners’ responsibilities. And this is the core reason the science is not being acted on.

  81. prokaryote says:

    “Apocalyptic Climate Shift.”

    The end of the world may be drawing a bit closer.

    Scientists on Wednesday changed the time on Chicago’s Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight, or the apocalypse, based on what they said is the “most perilous period since Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” during dual announcements in London and Washington, D.C.

    “We foresee great peril if governments and societies don’t take action now” to offset climate change, said astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who has warned that the survival of the human race depends on its ability to colonize space because of the increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the Earth.

    “It is now five to midnight,” he said of the clock, which was introduced in 1947 by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to assess the threat of a nuclear holocaust during the Cold War.

    As for global warming, “Through flooding and desertification, climate change threatens the habitats and agricultural resources that societies depend upon for survival. As such, climate change is also likely to contribute to mass migrations and even to wars over arable land, water and other natural resources,” Bulletin scientists said in a statement.
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,244140,00.html

    http://www.google.com/search?q=Apocalyptic+Climate+Shift

  82. Questioner says:

    Will believers in global weirding be called “global weirdists”?

  83. jorleh says:

    Did somebody already used

    Climatemageddon?

  84. Rockfish says:

    Here’s an idea. Every term that’s related to “climate” or “warming” is dealing with effects, not causes. It’s like saying you have “a fever” rather than “malaria.”
    The real issue (“disease”) is Carbon Poisoning, isn’t it? (maybe there’s a good, scary name for the family of GHG’s that include CO2 and Methane?)And the effects are broader than warming, as they include things like ocean acification, exteme weather events, etc.

    It also has the solution contained within the term – when you are being poisoned by something the first thing you do is STOP PUTTING THE POISON IN YOUR SYSTEM.

  85. Rockfish says:

    jorleh-

    I like Warmageddon better, (except it sounds like War-mongering, which I don’t like!)

    How about “Arm-a-geddon warmer every day”

  86. jorleh says:

    Or
    Climatolypse Now?

  87. Wit's End says:

    Rockfish is absolutely correct. We need a term that encompasses the entire effects of pollution from greenhouse gases, especially the acidification of the oceans.

  88. BobbyBob says:

    Just my $.02 but I think there is way too much time arguing about silly things like “branding” of the problem. I think where action on climate change is failing is in playing the denialist’s game and fighting about the problem. What we should be doing instead is educating people on solutions. I think a great deal of people that deny do so because they fear the solution more than the problem. They think that their entire way of life is going to come crashing down if they accept the truth because if they admit there is a problem then they are obligated to do something about it. But if we can alleviate enough of that fear of the solution, the problem will be much easier to accept.

    You can tell a kid not to pee in the corner all day long, but if you don’t show them how to use the toilet they will just keep saying the corner works just fine.

  89. Sue Sturgis says:

    In my own reporting on energy and climate I often use the term “climate disruption,” as it’s more comprehensive than “global warming” and conveys a sense of urgency more effectively than “climate change.”

  90. paulm says:

    Geo Francis yeah. Life’s a dilemma.

  91. Alain Miville de Chêne says:

    We are talking of ecosphere poisoning, mainly by CO2 production and fertiliser runoff.
    We are talking of ecosphere destruction mainly by deforestation, arable land erosion, introduction of foreign species, and fish extermination.

    It will change the air, land, and ocean temperature with consequent extreme climate change.
    It will acidify the oceans with a potential to destroy our food chain.
    It will create immense, numerous dead zones in the ocean.
    It will destroy the livability of our coastal regions.
    It will severely compromise the availability of fresh water.
    It will destroy much of our agriculture.

  92. David Dunbar says:

    I would suggest Environmental Collapse, Climate Collapse, or maybe just “The Collapse”. After all, isn’t that always what the predicted effects of global warming come down to:

    - collapse of the marine ecosystem due to acidification
    - collapse of agriculture
    - collapse of coastal infrastructure due to sea level rise
    - collapse of the ice caps
    - collapse of permafrost as a co2 sink
    - collapse of global fresh water supply

    The problem with “global warming” as a term is that it refers to the cause of the problem, not its effects. A name which places the emphasis on the horrible effects of climate change would be a useful step forward in shifting public and political opinion.

  93. Dan B says:

    Whatever names are used it’s astounding how many people will come on board if the solution is spelled out clearly.

    Renewable energy, clean energy, green energy, sustainable energy, radical efficiency – none of these scare people. Instead they invite people to develop amazing solutions, visionary solutions for a world filled to abundance with clean energy.

    Today I heard a global warming denier state that we should be pursuing energy efficiency. He parroted the, “IPCC is cooking the data.” meme and the “Sun’s cycles are responsible for what we’re seeing.” talking point. He still believes we should be more efficient.

    It matters little what name is used for the “problem”. What matters is the clarity and excitement of the “solution”.

    We got to the Moon, and have been living off the technological benefits for several decades. Let’s lead the world into the 21st Century Energy Economy!

  94. David Smith says:

    This discussion lays bare a dilemma in the debate. One side is playing to win as their functional primary objective. The other side is trying to prove that they are right. Based on this, who do you think is going to win?

    Science is diminished when politics and marketing are introduced. As a science outsider (my profession, Architect) this site seems to do an excellent job of explaining and defending climate science. Science should inform the battle strategy but science does not appear to be an effective weapon. The pursuit of a better name for the problem may affect some of the bystanders, but the enemy will use it against us, easily.

    From “The Art of War” Chapter 3, Strategic Offensive;

    “…Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting. The highest form of warfare is to attack strategy itself; the next, to attack alliances; the next, to attack armies…”

    The enemy is using the weapons available to them. The truth is not one is not one of these weapons. They wage an emotional war. In this context, science may be irrelevant.

    The science must stay out of the fray and become stronger and pursue critical understanding. We need the scientists get this right. No mistakes. They need to stay clear headed and objective.

    It’s time for environmental warriors to step forward. We don’t need new words, we need new strategies. To be effective, public forums like this one should not be used. The players in the opposition are totally hidden behind veils of secrecy.

    He only form of engagement available to an active science community is some form of Gandi-esque civil disobedience. If enough people were by willing to get cracked on the head, the strength of their belief would become known and the opposition would collapse from it’s own weight.

    Attack strategy first, then alliances, then armies.

  95. J Bowers says:

    The Guardian has put an article by Jeffrey Sachs on their website:

    “Climate sceptics are recycled critics of controls on tobacco and acid rain”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/feb/19/climate-change-sceptics-science

  96. Wessman says:

    To throw another banana to the monies, what about “climate extremification”? Since the climate will be more extreme. Or maybe “weather extremificaton”.

    I also like “climate destabilisation”. The best description of the phenomena is, however, “greenhouse effect acceleration”. Because that is what it is. Although slow and bulky to say.

  97. Susan G. says:

    I call it “global storming”…having arrived at the term through observation and the experiences of dealing with climate change. I think those of us who work outdoors (with horses, in my case) and spend a lot of time on trails tend to notice the more subtle aspects of climate and environmental changes than those who spend most of their time indoors.

    I also live in two different climates – the Pacific Northwest in the summer and northern Arizona in the winter. Since weather has almost driven me out of business in the past couple of years, particularly due to much stronger and more frequent storms, I decided to learn more about the climate and took two university courses on sustainability and the environment this past summer and fall.

    I have no doubt that the changes are lasting and real. So far as human-caused…well, just as an example, the ugly, smelly brown cloud that now extends from Phoenix to L.A. didn’t get there as a result of “natural” forces, that’s for sure. 20 years ago, Phoenix had crystal clear blue skies and doctors sent respiratory patients to the desert to relieve their allergies. Now, the bad air causes severe respiratory distress and it’s too hot to enjoy the outdoors for 6 months of the year since the city no longer cools off at night either.

    Maybe some people like 120 degrees though, which is what the typical actual temperatures are if you happen to be in the sun and anywhere near pavement. Sometimes higher. “Official” temperatures are recorded in the shade and most of us who have to deal with the desert climate have noticed “actual” temperatures are much higher in the spring and summer months than what we are presented with. I actually keep a digital thermometer with me when outdoors now, and can tell you for certain that our riding arena hit 110+ in May of last year – in the morning. That was within the first few weeks of the month when Phoenix set a new record for most number of days over 100 in May.

    The Pacific Northwest also had their hottest temperatures on record in July of 2009, and I’m sure there’s more to come this year given the current warm weather affecting Vancouver’s Olympics. Interestingly, it’s colder here today in northern Arizona, not to mention raining and snowing, while Vancouver is sporting sunny and dry conditions.

    I still have a lot to learn about tracking weather and climate data, but speaking from experience, so far as I can determine the pendulum is starting to swing more wildly than ever and we are in big trouble if this doesn’t calm down or reverse itself. I”m just starting to understand the relationship of water vapor and other greenhouse gases as drivers of lasting climate changes but it certainly makes sense when you track and record the patterns of data that are being made more public all the time.

    I subscribe to NASA’s Earth Observatory and keep an eye on the GOES Satellite information and weather forecasting maps on Intellicast…all useful tools for educating oneself as to what’s going on with this planet and it’s climate. I think we owe it to the future of humanity to pay attention and take action as necessary.