Thursday, January 04, 2007

Soapbox Revisited

I know I don't live in Ontario, but an innate need to know what's happening at home combined with the pathetic lack of reporting in the US on the World Junior Hockey Championships prompted me to check out the online version of The Toronto Star yesterday. I happened upon a couple interesting articles that address Global Warming. Which brings me to my aside:

Global Warming v. Climate Change.

Last night there was nothing [interesting] on TV. I wandered around the usual On Demand options and found a couple Daily Show clips. In one clip I was naively surprised to learn that there are some people who think that the term Climate Change is a right-wing spin on Global Warming, presumably to make it sound more benign. Noncommittal. Uncertain.

I'm not going to claim I know the entire history of both terms, but I can tell you one thing: in the geosciences the more generally accepted term is Climate Change. Even though global warming was used first, it is now understood that climate change caused by human activities, or climate forcing, may result in not simply an overall warming; some areas may actually cool. But there are other effects beyond temperature changes: increased droughts in some areas, increased severe weather in others, changes to the salinity of oceans, and possibly even drastic changes to ocean circulation (and hence the possibility for very drastic temperature changes, positive and negative.)

Change is a little more all-encompassing than warming.

But I do realize that the general public is more familiar with global warming. I can live with that. No worries.

Back to the Star. The first article I found paints a rather descriptive picture of what life will be like in 2050. It is rather grim (as the title of the article suggests), but it is also sadly quite realistic. The second article I found was a book review for Hell and High Water by Joseph Romm which I think I might have to read. It sounds like an interesting take on both the political and scientific aspects of climate change. I recommend reading the articles if you have 20 minutes.

Finally, as Meg mentioned, and as has happened many times over the last year (hottest on record), the past month of warm weather in Ontario has made many people think seriously about global warming. As most conservative (and I use the term literally, not politically) scientists warn, however, one shouldn't assume that all warming trends are proof of global warming. It very well may be directly caused by climate change, but the obvious pitfall to this kind of thinking is that the next cooling trend could cause doubts into the legitimacy of global warming.

We're a cautious bunch, us scientific types. Maybe that's our collective downfall.


jen said...

bravo. thrilled it's part of our Just Post roundtable.

Jenifer G. said...

Love your blog!
Of course Bub & Pie would lead me somewhere else where I can laugh and learn something.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad Bub&Pie brought you to my attention. Excellent posts, plus I appreciate being given links to follow through. Thanks.

Becky said...

thanks for the comments Jenifer and de! I'll be sure to come by for a visit, too. :)

And Jen and Mad - thanks for hosting such a worthy event. I'm definitely going to check out the other Just Posts.

Mouse said...

I'm also glad B&P led me here and will need to read more of those articles you link to!