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Thursday, February 06, 2014

Word choice and climate instability

Turns out that our Sun heats the Earth which I think is an uncontroversial position.

Without the light from the Sun, the Earth would be an iceball. Or a bare rock after the water eventually left over billions of years (I think) but getting a bit esoteric there, which gets to the problem of the relevance of certain scientific knowledge.

For instance, to whom does the average global temperature matter?

Climate scientists study it, but for every day concerns it doesn't tell you much.

Without searching on it, I can't tell you what the average global temperature is. And the phrase "global warming" confuses lots of people with scientific perspective hard to process in everyday life.

The phrase "climate change" is more accurate I think, but is still vague, as change can be good or bad: if you live in an arid climate is a little more rain--no doubt change--good or bad? If you're in a desert and get floods, change is bad. If you're in a farming region under a drought? Well then, a return of rain is a good change!

So our Sun heats our planet, and certain gases in the air help keep our planet warm like a nice warm blanket. Pumping more of these gases into the atmosphere is like adding layers of blanket which anyone can tell you can get uncomfortable.

The more energy from the Sun that our planet keeps the more energy there is to change things, which could lead to climate instability.

Politicians understand the importance of word choice. Infamously Republicans in my country which is the United States exploited variations on words, say to make claims about "death panels" or to shift perspective on estate taxes by calling them "death taxes".

I think it's past time that scientists focused less on their perspective when talking about important matters to the public and more on being understood.

Understanding that putting more gas into the air that keeps more energy from the Sun can lead to climate instability and screw up our weather is a lot different than hearing about "climate change" or even more esoteric and distant, studying debates about "global warming".

If you know the global average temperature, feel free to reply what it is in the comments.

And ask yourself, what does it really mean to your daily weather? It is important, but in terms of understanding for billions of people on planet Earth, the average global temperature is esoterica.

But climate instability hits close to home.

Scientists need to understand a responsibility to be understood as they are on the planet with the rest of us, and will suffer the consequences with the rest of us.

We all are invested in planet Earth and should behave accordingly.


James Harris
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