Judith Curry’s reflection: “Well, increasing temperatures say nothing about the causes of climate change.”
Post 15th January 2018
The terminology climate science use is all but helpful. Is it accidentally or consciously misleading? There is no scientifically sustainable definition of weather, climate, and natural variability (MORE). Only when it comes to “warming”, we know that it is connected to a rise in air temperature, but with numerous variations at not less locations.
Someone who didn’t bother about precision and details, is James Hansen, who already in 1988 in testimony before U.S. Congress, warning that increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations would lead to spiraling global warming said: that it was 99 percent certain that the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere. (Fig. 1), and that there was no ”magic number” that showed when the greenhouse effect was actually starting to cause changes in climate and weather.
Almost every explanation beyond the fact of the general warming trend since the mid-19th Century was superficial and largely meaningless, including the 99% claim of CO2 certainty. Only two years later his colleagues C.K. Folland et al concluded the IPCC (1990) Chapter 7, Summary on “Observed Climate Variations and Change (Fig. 2) with the notion: „Because we do not understand the reasons for these past warming events it is not yet possible to attribute a specific proportion of the recent, smaller, warming to an increase of greenhouse gases.” (Fig. 3)
The contrast to James Hansen could hardly be greater, but IPCC overcome this problem quickly, readily with the next IPCC Report in 1995. The ‘trick’ is explained by a recent post at “Climate Etc.” (Jan/03/2018) titled “Manufacturing consensus: the early history of the IPCC”. Prof. Judith Curry reviews a book by Bernie Lewis that shows the scientific debate on detection and attribution was effectively quelled by the IPCC Second Assessment Report (1995). Indeed Chapter 8 does not hesitate to establish an initial evidence “of an anthropogenic climate signal – if models are correct” (Fig.5). The entire Chapter 8 Conclusion see Fig 5 & 7.
2 thoughts on “Warming & Climate – Confusing Terminology – Accidentally?”
Agreed! For sure, if only the question of higher temperatures would be at stake, the “climate change” discussion would be less aggressive, less hyper superficial, or too often meaningless. A focus on temperature changes would support considerations on what substantially contributed to global warming during the last 150 years, namely the impact of ocean use by shipping etc..
With regard to “weather” it is a very personal affair – subjective social construct -, since ancient times, and science should not use it as the general public does.
Arnd, thanks for adding context from your considerable experience with this issue. As you have pointed out, without equivocation of “climate” as a term, there would be no alarm or basis for global treaties on the topic. Thus, as I note, the belief in weather changing now or in the future is a subjective social construct, rather than a matter of physical science.