Global Warming V.S Climate Change

Many people think that the term ‘climate change’ used to be known as the term ‘global warming’, but according to John Cook, who is a research assistant professor at the center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, the terms mean two different things, and have been used for decades. The fact of the terms changing is actually a myth, and the use of the term ‘climate change’ is nothing new. In 1956 Gilbert Plass studied the Carbon Dioxide Theory of climate change, and in 1977 Barrett and Glass published a letter in science named ‘Climate Change’. Cook continued his argument and stated that in Google Scholar the term ‘climate change’ was used before the term ‘global warming’, and has been used more commonly in scientific literature. Frank Luntz ,a Republican political strategist, insist that the term ‘climate change’ is less frightening to the people. In the media they tend not to use the term ‘global warming’.

In an article written by NASA they defined global warming as the increase in earth’s average surface temperature due to rising levels of greenhouse gases. In scientific journals they used to term to refer to surface temperature increases. Scientist use it to describe the average global surface temperature increase from human emissions of greenhouse gases. The term first came up in 1975 in a science article by Wallace Broecker a geochemist at Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory. The term used before this was ‘inadvertent climate modification’. They didn’t know what the change was, so they used this term for most of the 1970s.  The term ‘global warming’ wasn’t adopted until Jule Charney of the Massachusetts Institution of Technology in Cambridge said that “if carbon dioxide continues to increase, no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible.” When referring to the surface temperature change, Charney uses ‘global warming’, and then when talking about the many other changes due to carbon dioxide increasing the term ‘climate change’ is used.

NASA defines climate change as a long-term change in earth’s climate, or of a region on earth. Climate change means more than just the temperature warming. It also is a change in global weather patterns with could affect rain. In 2002 George W. Bush started using the term ‘climate change’ with the advice of Frank Luntz as mentioned in the first paragraph. The term was less frightening according to his polling and focus groups.  Michael Mann from Penn State University said that it is ironic because critics think scientist use the term ‘climate change’ because it seemed scarier, which is opposite of what Luntz said. Bryan Walsh stated that ‘climate change’ has become preferred to scientist because it discusses the long-term effects in the earth’s climate, and it describes the more general phenomenon instead of just the temperature increase, but they still use both words. Eric Holthaus explained that the term ‘climate change’ was used 20 years before the term ‘global warming’ in 1956, and again he claims that scientist prefer to use the term ‘climate change’ because people don’t feel temperature on a global scale.

In summary the term to describe this phenomenon was never really changed. They have both existed side by side with different definitions and explanations of what is happening to the earth’s climate. Scientist use both terms, they just choose what they think is more appropriate at the time of what they are explaining. They do have their preferences on which term is a better explanation, but the term was never officially changed abandoning the other one.