Inel briefly discusses the success of an egregious skeptic’s article entitled Global Warming and its Evil Twin ‘Climate Change’ claiming that the expression “climate change” is a conspiracy by alarmists to confuse weather and climate. (!) I have also heard greenies claiming that “climate change” is a conspiracy by big business to make everything sound neutral and non-threatening.
In fact “climate change” is a meaningful expression, and “global warming” is hopelessly confused by polemicists.
“Global warming” is a problematic term because scientists and the public mean different things by it, and what the public means by “global warming” is much closer to what scientists mean by “anthropogenic climate change”. Global warming is only one of the easier to predict and easier to understand anticipated consequences of changes in greenhouse gas forcing.
While it is irritatingly incorrect to have every severe weather event attributed to anthropogenic change, that doesn’t mean there is anything dishonest or manipulative about the phrase “climate change”.
Quite the contrary. The expression “global warming” is being used manipulatively by the people who are professionals at manipulating language.
(One often sees disreputable people accusing their decent opponents of exactly their own favorite tactics. The opening scene of the movie “Thank You for Smoking” has a classic example.)
The whole concept of “do you believe in global warming” is intended to mystify, as if in a conversation about economics you asked “do you believe in inflation”? Given that “global warming” means “a rise in mean temperature”, “an anthropogenic rise in mean temperature”, “anthropogenic climate change”, “observational detetction of rise in mean temperature”, “observational confirmation of anthropogenic causes of climate change”, “scientific theory about anthropogenic climate change”, etc. etc., it gives people who are trying to confuse the conversation ample opportunities for sleight of hand.
I explained this in a (largely futile) feature article on RealClimate (my one and only) a couple of years back and advocated that scientists avoid the phrase “global warming” in public communication. It may have had some small effect. Some people do talk about AGW or “anthropogenic global warming”, which avoids some of the semantic pitfalls.
There is also the risk that people think “global warming” is “the problem”, so it can be solved straightforwardly if not cheaply by an equal and opposite dose of anthropogenic global cooling. Sigh. No it can’t, because global mean temperature rise is a prominent symptom, but accelerating climate change is the problem.