Burning Question

“Global Warming” or “Climate Change”: Which term do you prefer?

By Tobin Hack

Gavin A. Schmidt:
Climate modeler, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York
Founding member of blog “RealClimate”

Global warming is a subset of climate change. It's a part that a lot of people recognize as being a problem. In places where people are really into the politics of it all, one group of people will say, “Oh yeah, it's those sneaky republicans, they're trying to change the terms of debate so they can do a 'death tax' on us, and they're trying to make it sound less scary or something”' And then on the more right-wing side they'll say, “No no no, it's because they know that the globe isn't warming anymore, and they're trying to continue their funding. Because it's all a conspiracy, and if they say 'climate change' then it doesn't matter what's going to happen, they'll still win.” I don't buy into either conspiracy theory, but people have used 'climate change' in the [scientific] community for a long, long time.

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