Global warm­ing vs. cli­mate change

Regina Leader-Post - - OPINION -

Rex Mur­phy has a beau­ti­ful com­mand of the English lan­guage. In his opin­ion piece ‘What’s in a name?’ (NP, Nov. 21) he elo­quently ex­presses his frus­tra­tion at the va­ri­ety of terms used to de­scribe the ef­fects of green­house gas emis­sions on the planet.

Yes, Rex, I’m afraid the cli­mate is­sue is com­plex, and it’s hard to find a sin­gle term that neatly em­braces the com­pli­cated in­ter­ac­tions tak­ing place as av­er­age global tem­per­a­tures are ris­ing.

Yes, the world over­all is warm­ing. So “global warm­ing” is ac­cu­rate. But the warm­ing is not uni­formly dis­trib­uted; some lo­cal­ized re­gions are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pe­ri­ods of cool­ing as jet streams and ocean currents are dis­turbed — so “cli­mate change” seems a bit more com­pre­hen­sive. The at­mo­spheric changes are caus­ing a lot of dis­rup­tion in the form of drought, flood­ing and se­vere wind events, so “cli­mate chaos” is not an in­ap­pro­pri­ate term.

Yes, “physics is still physics; botany is botany,” but the sit­u­a­tion is not de­scrib­able by any one sin­gle sci­ence. What’s go­ing on with the cli­mate in­volves a messy mix of physics, chem­istry, bi­ol­ogy, hy­drol­ogy, me­te­o­rol­ogy etc. as well as a col­lec­tion of less well-de­fined social sciences.

I’m sorry life is so com­pli­cated, Rex, but what­ever ter­mi­nol­ogy we use to la­bel the cli­mate prob­lem, it’s a huge global prob­lem and we are the gen­er­a­tion that has to deal with it.

Ann Cox­worth, Saska­toon

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