Climate Change v. Global Warming v. AGW

Q: Why was it called global warming for so long, if the weather everywhere isn’t actually warming? Why aren’t they using that term as much anymore?

A: It was called global warming because the average global temperature is rising due to an increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, this as led to misunderstanding and the anti-climate-science media campaigns have shown us the value of a more accurate and easily understood meaning.

Q: Why do some people refer to it as Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW)?

A: This is a term used to create a devision between “global warming” that is occurring naturally, versus “global warming” that is the result of human society (AGW). While our planet’s climate changes on large swings, it happens slowly – in geological time frames. The climate today is changing much faster than the natural swing and can be directly related to human beings burning fossil fuels.

Q: Why “climate change” then?

A: This is a more accurate term now used to help make it clear in the midst of massive amounts of anti-science misinformation and media campaigns by polluters. Tehcnically, it would be even more accurate to call it Global Climate Disruption, as the increase in greenhouse gases throws every part of the ecosystem off balance – cause floods in some areas, droughts in others, increased severity and frequency of storms, causing some areas to cool (N. Europe and Northeast US) while others burn (Texas, Pakistan, Australia).

Q: Where is all this misunderstanding coming from?

A: Bil Oil and Coal dump unbelievable amounts of money into campaigns to make the public distrust the science (that’s right, science, the thing that is allow you to read this, drive your car, and in many cases be alive today – the basis for modern human existence). By undermining the public’s trust in climate science these companies can distort the facts so that we “debate” the existence of something that is considered “unequivocal” by credible scientists.

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Rationing Carbon: A Solution to Climate Change?

Heat: How To Stop The Planet From Burning
Heat: How To Stop The Planet From Burning

George Monbiot‘s book Heat covers the limits of our climate-changing actions and the actions that need to be taken immediately in order to avert catastrophe.  Here’s the skinny: there is a limit to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere before we set into motion devastating, irreversible consequences. If we reach this limit we will go past the “tipping point,” the global point of no return.

Malte Meinshausen, a climatologist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research quoted in a ScienceNews article, says “If you want to limit the risk of exceeding 2 degrees C global warming to one in four, or 25 percent, then total CO2 emissions over the first half of the 21st century have be kept below 1,000 billion tons.” We’ve already emitted half of that, but that does leave a decent amount left to fill the gap (though we don’t need to fill the gap).

We’ve talked about this limit before: a concentration limit for atmospheric CO2. We want it back to 350ppm from the current level of 389ppm. There are other guesses to this number: some say 400ppm or 450ppm, while others insist we’ve passes it (remember 350ppm). If we continue on our current path without serious emission cuts we’ll hit this upper limit in just a few decades.

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Climate Change: Do Something Already!

What's to Fear?

I am writing this post in a somewhat balmy, 80-plus degrees in my house (at 10:30pm). In Seattle air conditioning in homes is nearly as unheard of as the robin is in the Inuit’s land. Of course, now that the robin is in the arctic the Inuit have to come up with a word for it. Why has the last ten days been the hottest streak of temperatures in Seattle history? Why is the robin suddenly so far north? Why was last night the first night in recorded history that it stayed above 70 degrees in Seattle?

Simply put the Earth is warming. Rather, the climate is changing. In some places it is cooling, but most of us are experiencing the beginnings of climate destabilization. Why? Because we have insisted on releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, altering the interaction of our planet and the sun’s energy.

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