Why are they calling it 'climate change' now?
A common argument from those who don't believe in man-made climate change goes like this: A few years ago, everyone was calling it "global warming." Now they're calling it "climate change." What gives?Skip to next paragraph
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Some doubters smell conspiracy lurking in this semantic shift. Asserting that global temperatures peaked in 1998 and are now falling – an assertion that is completely bogus, but whatever – they claim that environmentalists have sensed that the jig is up. Unable to continue calling it "global warming" in the face of pesky facts, the argument goes, the greenies started calling it "climate change" and hoped nobody would notice.
Is that how it really went down? If the enviros aren't trying to pull a fast one, then why did they suddenly start using a different term to describe the same phenomena?
They didn't. "Climate change" predates "global warming" by many years. "Global warming" came into vogue beginning in the 1980s, temporarily eclipsing the older term. But people have been using the phrase "climate change" all along. After all, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is 20 years old.
But let's go way back to Nov. 3, 1916, courtesy of Google News's archive search, where we'll see a story in the Hartford (Conn.) Courant headlined, "Fossil Rocks in Canada Studied." The subhead under the headline reads, in part, "Measurement of Ice Flow Shows Climate Change."
That story talks about prehistoric climatic shifts, though. The earliest stories about human-caused climate change that use the term start to show up in Google's archives in the 1930s. Here's one from 1937, by the Los Angeles' Times's William S. Barton, headlined "Is the Earth Changing its Face," with a summary that reads "Scientists are wondering in all seriousness if they can discover how to control the earth's climate before the next scheduled Ice Age grinds civilization to bits beneath ten-mile-high glaciers!" Looks like we've made some progress on this front.
Here's another one from 1952, also by the Times's Mr. Barton, under the headline "Weather Expert Finds Little Climate Change." And here's one from 1955 in the Hartford Courant headlined "Climate Change Seen As Hurricane Cause."