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Let's Call It 'Climate Disruption,' White House Science Adviser Suggests (Again) 568

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "First there was 'global warming.' Then many researchers suggested 'climate change' was a better term. Now, White House science adviser John Holdren is renewing his call for a new nomenclature to describe the end result of dumping vast quantities of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into Earth's atmosphere: 'global climate disruption.'"
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Let's Call It 'Climate Disruption,' White House Science Adviser Suggests (Again)

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  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:40PM (#46913345) Journal


    The simple goal should be to spew as little as possible, regardless of the potential issues.

    • Yeah, or just use the name scientists have used for it since the 1870s when Fourier et al started warning about CO2 and atmospheric infra-red trapping.

      "The greenhouse effect"

      • That's misleading because it doesn't work the same way as a greenhouse at all
        • Both cases cause the system's radiative heat efflux to be smaller than its influx. Close enough.
      • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <> on Sunday May 04, 2014 @02:15PM (#46914003) Homepage

        The problem with that is that "the greenhouse effect" is a *cause*, but "climate change" is a *result* -- they're two different things. We could make the Earth hotter by putting giant mirrors in orbit that send more sunlight our way ... that would cause climate change but would not be an example of the greenhouse effect at all.

        Realistically, the problem with a name change is that politics more than anything else -- calling it by yet another name will make the conspiracy theorists think that you're trying to hide or obfuscate something [] (the link talks about Benghazi, but the ideas apply to climate change too), and while that's not true, the end result is still that it overall causes people to take the problem less seriously. I think we should stick with "climate change".

    • by KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @01:18PM (#46913607) Homepage

      What? Don't throw junk into the environment? What is this madness?!

      On a serious note, that's what it should really come down to. Don't toss junk into the environment, whatever it is. We should always be trying to reduce the amount of pollutants we produce. You can even find trace amounts of antidepressants [] and other prescription drugs in our water supply.

      There's reasonable steps that society can - and does - take to reduce pollutants, but there's still a lot of things we could be doing more about. Plastics, for example. So much is packaged in giant wads of hard plastic or shrink wrapped plastic. Is it really necessary to keep piling this crap into our landfills? What is wrong with packaging something in paper or paperboard with a bit of natural glue to hold it shut?

      • by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @01:34PM (#46913707) Homepage

        It usually turns out that those things use *more* resources than the alternative, hence why they are more expensive. You may save an ounce of oil from the plastics but you use two on the paper processing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Beck_Neard ( 3612467 )

        Depending on the type, plastic packaging can in principle be good for the environment. It's not very energy-intensive to make, can be easily recycled, can be recycled many more times than paper can, and doesn't involve cutting down trees. The key is not to stop using plastic, but to use less packaging when we can. In "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", there's a reason why "Reduce" comes first.

  • Thats a good name (Score:5, Insightful)

    by egarland ( 120202 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:48PM (#46913403)

    Global warming was always a terrible name because the imagery was all wrong.

    Global climate change is more accurate, but still nebulous.

    Climate disruption evokes a more accurate picture of what seems to be happening. I personally liked the name "Santa's revenge" from this winter's breakdown of the polar vortex. Melt the north pole, and you'll all get a taste of the cold!

    • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:57PM (#46913469)

      Climate disruption evokes a more accurate picture of what seems to be happening.

      Disruption sounds temporary, change sounds more permanent. Change seems a far better word to use.

      • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @01:03PM (#46913525) Homepage

        Nothing is permanent. They earth's climate has 'changed' drastically over several billion years.

        And disruption really is more accurate. The data really does support that anthropogenic inputs have altered the natural climate flows (along with meteors, volcanoes and perhaps some other things, but this time it's all about us). And this will disrupt many human activities (I suppose it will also change them).

        Still and all it's semantics and unlikely to make a dent in the noise surrounding the topic.

        • Nothing is permanent. They earth's climate has 'changed' drastically over several billion years.

          And disruption really is more accurate.

          And this is a beautiful example of why most scientists should not talk to the public. While your point is factually correct it does *not* communicate to the public what it communicates to the scientifically literate. The public does not think of change in geologic terms, they think of it in personal human experience terms. To the public disruptions are temporary, electricity was disrupted by the storm, etc.

          Scientists like Sagan and Tyson do such a great job explaining science to the public because they l

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Disruption sounds temporary

        To me it brings forth an image of Klingons and Romulans.

    • Global warming was always a terrible name because the imagery was all wrong.

      The imagery was not created by the name. We need to call stuff what it is, not what invokes an image.

    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )

      Global warming was always a terrible name because the imagery was all wrong.

      I don't know what image you had, but the one I got was of the frog swimming in a pan full of water while the heat was slowly turned up. Replace "frog" with "Life on Earth", "pan" with "Earth" and "water" for "seas and atmosphere" and I think it's a pretty clear image of what the proponents of global warming, climate change, or whatever other nomenclature you want to assign the process, are trying to get across. While I can see t

      • by stoploss ( 2842505 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @01:20PM (#46913619)

        Please stop using the slow-boiled frog meme. It's false. []

        • Please stop using the slow-boiled frog meme. It's false.

          It doesn't really matter if it's true.
          What's important is that it's cultural shorthand for a morality tale, about complacency, that everyone already knows.

          I understand why you want it to go away, but you're pissing into the wind.
          ("Pissing into the wind" is another example of cultural shorthand with a deeper understanding attached to it)

  • Fourth options (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:50PM (#46913417)
    I'm fine with calling it any of those things. But it would be better to settle on globally unified measures to do something about it like we did with the hole in the Ozone Layer (remember that?), or else we may eventually have to call it a fourth option: Global Suicide.
  • nuclear (Score:4, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:52PM (#46913427) Journal
    He also promotes using nuclear energy as part of the solution.
    • Re:nuclear (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:54PM (#46913445)

      Seems sensible to me. Replacing coal plants with nuclear has a lot of other benefits, too.

      • by GryMor ( 88799 )

        Like less radioactive materials spewed into the environment.

        • Of course, providing it doesn't go Chernobyl or Fukushima.

      • Well, for 30 or so years. But what then? Then you have a huge pile of radioactive crap sitting there that you can't really get rid of sensibly and that will continue to sit there for a few millennia. But maybe by then we can use the IMF to force some broke countries to take that shit from us, we use it to blackmail and and press them into submission with a lot of other things already, how hard could it be to tack that to the list, too?

    • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @01:17PM (#46913601)

      He also promotes using nuclear energy as part of the solution.

      Well, it is.

      As much as we would all really love solar and wind to scale to a level necessary for global needs that is not going to happen with current technology. Its many decades off. Lots of science and engineering are needed to get solar there. We need something to bridge the gap between today and that future date where solar scales.

      If not nuclear then its natural gas, oil and coal.

      Even environmentalists are starting to realize this, including a co-founder of GreenPeace.
      "Moore says that his views have changed since founding Greenpeace, and he now believes that using nuclear energy can help counteract catastrophic climate change from burning fossil fuels. Says Moore, "The 600-plus coal-fired plants emit nearly 2 billion tons of CO2 annually -- the equivalent of the exhaust from about 300 million automobiles." Moore also cites reports from the Clean Air Council that coal plants are responsible for 64 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 26 percent of nitrous oxides and 33 percent of mercury emissions. "Meanwhile, the 103 nuclear plants operating in the United States effectively avoid the release of 700 million tons of CO2 emissions annually," says Moore. "Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can do so safely." Moore points out that the average cost of producing nuclear energy in the United States was less than two cents per kilowatt-hour, comparable with coal and hydroelectric. He predicts that advances in technology will bring the cost down further in the future. According to Moore, British atmospheric scientist James Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory, also believes that nuclear energy is the only way to avoid catastrophic climate change. Concerns about past accidents in the nuclear industry were also mentioned, as he claims the Chernobyl nuclear disaster as example, calling it "an accident waiting to happen. This early model of Soviet reactor had no containment vessel, was an inherently bad design and its operators literally blew it up". He also recognized the difficulty of dealing with nuclear waste." []

      Regarding nuclear waste from current reactors. 4th generation reactors can use this waste as fuel. And the waste from 4th gen is short lived. Hundred of years rather than tens of thousands. []

      NASA also thinks nuclear has greatly improved the environment.
      "Using historical production data, we calculate that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. On the basis of global projection data that take into account the effects of the Fukushima accident, we find that nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420,000-7.04 million deaths and 80-240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by midcentury, depending on which fuel it replaces. By contrast, we assess that large-scale expansion of unconstrained natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and would cause far more deaths than expansion of nuclear power." []

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:55PM (#46913449)

    "Climate Terrorism"

  • Why not just call it an unrequested global energy surplus?

    Language like this makes me want to engage in an involuntary personal protein spill... []

  • by QilessQi ( 2044624 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @12:59PM (#46913493)

    10. "Global climate engineering"
    9. "Atmospheric carbon dioxide deficit reduction"
    8. "Carbon gifting"
    7. "Meteorological redistricting"
    6. "No Cloud Left Behind"
    5. "The Hurricane Insurance Investment Initiative of 2024"
    4. "The Global War on Terra"
    3. "Operation Desert Planet"
    2. "Great Flood II: Our Glorious Return to Biblical Times"

    And the number 1 future euphemism for Global Warming is...

    1. "Occupy Everest"

  • Just something to poo poo and pat each other on the back over I stead of actually doing something real.
  • All those terms means different things

    Global warming means the observable increase in the average global temperature, that has been is objectively measured and there is no opinion or local weather that can deny it. Is in the orders of a few tenths of degrees each year, but it has been increasing.

    The explanation of why it is happening goes around the increase of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and it was linked to use of fuel, industrial pollution, deforestation and so on. As is linked to

  • by oculusprime ( 1250270 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @01:36PM (#46913719)
    Ah, so the conversation has degenerated to the "controversy" over whether burning fossil fuels could be altering the earth's climate. Look, Carbon Dioxide IS a greenhouse gas. No scientist disputes that if we just keep shoving the stuff in the atmosphere forever, eventually things will warm up. The only question is whether or not we are putting enough up there right now to have this effect. So lets do some simple math: 1 gallon of gasoline requires about 100 tons of biomass. 1 barrel of oil makes 20 gallons of gasoline. The world uses 85,000,000 barrels of oil per day. Doing the simple math, we use the equivalent of 170,000,000,000 tons of biomass per day. The earth's current biomass is estimated at 560,000,000,000 tons. So we burn the equivalent of 1/3 of all the earth's current biomass every single day. I find this pretty compelling.... And don't forget the methane, which we're also pumping up there (both directly by co-release with oil drilling and fracking, and as a side-effect of arctic climate change), and which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than is carbon dioxide.
  • Let's call it ... dung. You know, shit has such a negative overtone. Dung, that's the powerful stuff that promotes growth! Sounds much better! And while we're at it, could we paint that turd white maybe? Our marketing department found out that people don't like the color brown, they associate it with, well, shit. White is much superior. First we thought green, but our prototyping department found out that makes the shit, pardon, dung only look like it's infected or something. White shit is much more friendl

  • to rename our efforts to create a world wide carbon exchange to tax nations and deindustrialize them to bring them under rule.

    Not going to work, because the cat is out of the bag. The sicence behind Global Warming is so fake, it is like watching two drunk people doing Cherades at your company Christmas party.

    We are suppose to be stewards of the Earth. If we REALLY wanted to clean up the environment we would agressive upgrade our energy production facilities like we do with our PC's.

    Thorium Nuclear power wou

    • by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @03:29PM (#46914481)
      If the science behind global warming is so fake, why don't you expose it and convince everyone it's fake? I see people thinking they're doing that all the time, but I haven't seen one good argument to suggest that our carbon dioxide emissions are not causing significant warming.
      • If the science behind global warming is so fake, why don't you expose it and convince everyone it's fake?

        He probably didn't get the latest talking points memos.

        Even the deniers have stopped claiming that "the increase in CO2 is not human made,"
        instead they've pivoted to claiming that it doesn't matter because the predicted consequences won't happen.

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @04:25PM (#46914881) Journal

      The science is fake? You're right. People like Fourier back in the 1820's just started the whole "Global Warming" thing because he wanted to get rich of green energy. I suppose Ahrennius developing the first global climate model in the late 1890's and quantify the possible anthropogenic effects on global temperature was to further capitalize on the big "Green Energy" cash cow.

      Maybe Al Gore invented a time machine and went back in time and had a little chat with some of these famous "scientists" in the 1800's just to help line his pockets. After all, what's developing a time machine compared to creating the internet.

      And while your being a complete idiot, HAARP is controlling your brain, the Black Night Satellite is real and was sent from Alpha Centauri to gather Krispy Kreme Donuts, and the Lochness Mosnter isn't really a monster, he just needed the money.

      Honestly, you act like global warming is some brand spanking new theory developed out of nothing with no supporting evidence. The theory of global warming was first proposed close to 200 years ago, and scientists from as far back as the early 1900's have been warning that unchecked human activities could result in an altered climate. It existed long before Al Gore and Green Energy, or even before the photovoltaic effect was put down on paper.

      You have a brain. Use it. You can verify the effects of greenhouse gases with basic high school math and physics. Fourier did it before the invention of the fucking light bulb, let alone calculators and computers.

  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Sunday May 04, 2014 @03:13PM (#46914377)

    No matter what you call it the physical changes to the Earth's climate can't be denied. This is like throwing a bone to the contrarians so they can claim we changed the name again.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan