Danger is in the eye of the beholder

The conclusion of the previous post left a bad taste in my mouth. So here we have someone who wrote in the introduction and in the conclusion of his paper that people should be inclined in supporting policies on climate change, but then when asked the question if the dangerousness was subject of the survey, he had to admit that this was not the case. How could he ever made the conclusion from his study that action is needed when that study didn’t determine whether global warming was dangerous or not? If his study would have determined that there is a consensus that global warming was dangerous, then his conclusion would be in line with his investigation. But this is obviously not the case.

How could such a discrepancy be explained?

Well, that is not difficult at all.

The terms “global warming” and “climate change” are very ambiguous. They can be used to cover many different things. It depends for example what one means with “global” and what one means with “warming”. Obviously “global” could be used as “over the total surface of the earth”, but in the media it is often used for a small part of the earth, say the contiguous United States or Europe. So how much area is “global” exactly? “Warming” could be used when there is a temperature increase, but in the last years it is also often used as meaning the past increase. Besides, what is the “right” temperature of the Earth anyway? Which dataset to measure it? What if datasets are not in agreement? And probably many, many more.

The term “climate change” isn’t much better in this regard. Which are the elements affected by that change? What time frame should be taken? Which area should be affected?

By the way, when taking change in a constantly changing system as proof of something, there is no limit on the proof one can accumulate.

Combine both terms and absolutely nothing will be left that can’t be explained. If there is no clear common definition, whatever happens can be attributed to either global warming or climate change. Not necessarily because that is the reality, but because the definition is so incredibly broad that it covers everything, including the kitchen sink.

Two persons talking about “global warming” or “climate change” can be talking about two completely different things. It is this confusion that slipped into this paper. Those loose definitions of global warming make it possible to sneak in a meaning that was not even supported by their own investigation and only few who would notice it.

It could of course be true that global warming/climate change is dangerous and action is needed, but this conclusion came not from the definition they used to classify the papers in their investigation. On the contrary, this underlying, unenclosed definition of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming seemed to be their starting point.

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