Is “Global Climate Disruption” More Pressing than “Global Warming?”

Does the term “global climate disruption” sound like a call to action? Does it carry any more urgency than the benign “global warming?” To many conservative-leaning media outlets “global climate disruption” represents a new approach by the White House to spin the climate crisis after the climate-energy bill stalled in the Senate earlier this year.

Earlier this month John P. Holdren, a top White House science adviser, gave a speech in Oslo in which he said the term global warming was a “dangerous misnomer” because it suggested that effects of greenhouse gases would be uniform around the world and “quite possibly benign.” Instead he said a better term would be “global climate disruption.”

Fox News, the Drudge Report and other conservative bloggers, jumped on the speech as a sign that the White House, which backed the energy legislation, was changing its tactics.

“They had their shot at ‘cap and trade,’ carbon taxing and enslaving the economy to their arcane theories, but they came up short,” the Washington Times wrote in an editorial. “Now they hope to win an argument through fear that they couldn’t carry by reason.”

A spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said the comments did not reflect any attempt to rebrand global warming.

But maybe it should. Is there a difference between “global warming” and “global climate disruption?” Neither sounds all that alarming. Putting aside the many independent studies that talk about the impact of carbon emissions into the atmosphere or surveys such as the one released in 2007 by the non-partisan Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) at George Mason University  in which more than eight out of ten American climate scientists believe that human activity contributes to global warming, consider some other items of interest:

Germany has set a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions in that country by 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. Why would the German government do that if not concerned about a problem?

In early August China, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, said it was ordering more than 2,000 energy-intensive factories closed by the end of September as it tries to meet its energy efficiency goals. The economy is growing in China, as is the middle class. The Communist government is taking steps to offset the environmental impact.

High-profile corporations such as General Electric and IBM have moved aggressively into the development of alternative energy sources and the design of more efficient processes such as supply chains. They see governments and corporations around the world responding to climate change.

Many major U.S. corporations, state and local governments, colleges and universities across the country are measuring their environmental impact and taking steps to reduce it.

Would the smart people who work in those governments, companies and colleges waste time and resources if they thought the climate crisis was a hoax? And what would be the reason that scientists from around the world would conspire to perpetrate such a hoax?

The fact that climate change deniers pounced on a rewording in terminology by a scientist connected to the White House demonstrates their diligence in fighting the obvious and preserving the turf for vested interests. Yet if the matter of climate change is ever going to be elevated to the level of urgency where it belongs, it will require stronger language from top than “global climate disruption.”

8 responses

  1. The Climate Coward Song:
    Don’t blame it on sunshine.
    Don’t blame it on sunlight.
    Don’t blame it on corrupt minds.
    Blame it on the CO2 BogeyMan.

    Climate Change Rap Song:
    Pollution’s real. Get over it. We get it. Grow some brotha!
    System Change, not climate change.
    Birth Control, not climate control.
    Population Control, not climate control.
    Stop scaring my kids you environMENTAL neocon.
    Climate Change is just another Iraq War of WMD’s, lies and fear mongering.
    History has a special place for you gullible, and naive modern day witch burners.
    Climate Change was a mistake, but as for getting any credibility back, it’s too late.
    Voters had the REAL consensus, not your lab coat consultants you Greenzis bow to.
    Your God is a fat American politician promising to lower the seas with taxes.
    Climatologists are to science what alter boy abusing priests are to the church.
    Correlation is not science.
    Precaution is not science.
    If climate change was real, we would be sharing our suffering, not debating it’s existence.
    24 more years is long enough.
    If you still think voter consensus is real, YOU are the new denier.
    Tax Volcanoes

  2. Where does lack of respect for science come from?

    So far, the only group of people in the world to display grotesque arrogance and lack of respect for scientific organizations are the Young-Earth Creationists. YEC’s believe the earth is only 6000 years old when in fact about 40 different lines of scientific evidence all corroborate each other and prove that it’s closer to 4.5 billion years old. As far as the science goes, these people are off by a factor of 750,000 to 1. It’s like asking someone how far they think the moon is from the earth and they tell you it’s 3 miles away.

    What’s even more funny is that these people will argue until the cows come home that the science backs them up.

    The Republican party is inundated with Young-Earth-Creationists who abhor science. Many of them think we should let the earth fall into ruin because then Jesus will come back. Many of them also believe that rules to protect the environment aren’t just wrong, but, evil. These people have an exaggerated faith in everything from a 6000 year old earth to the ability of unfettered laissez-faire or free market economic views or policies to solve economic and social problems.

    The common thread between free market fundamentalism and religious fundamentalism stood out like a sore thumb in America’s 2004 national election.

    The American National Exit Poll (NEP) of 2004 included a measure of evangelical identification. Voters were asked the following question:

    “Would you describe yourself as a born-again or evangelical Christian?” [Yes, No]

    Of those who answered Yes, 79% voted for Bush.

    It’s too bad voters weren’t asked, “Would you describe yourself as a born-again or evangelical Christian who is also a white Protestant, a young-earth creationist, and a global warming denier?” [Yes, No].

    If they had, I am sure that number would be close to 100%.

    If you are a denier looking for conspiracies, I’ll provide you with an obvious smoking gun that rarely gets mentioned:

    In early 1998, ExxonMobil helped create the Global Climate Science Team (GCST), a task force charged with discrediting the scientific consensus opinion that greenhouse gases are warming the planet. Members of the task force included ExxonMobil’s senior environmental lobbyist, Randy Randol; the American Petroleum Institute’s public relations representative, Joe Walker; and Steven Milloy, who heads a non-profit organization called the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. Milloy’s organization had been secretly formed in 1993 by tobacco giant Philip Morris with the goal of creating uncertainty about the health hazards posed by second-hand smoke.

    This is not the first time that API has been at the center of a secretive campaign to derail carbon controls. The New York Times ran an article about the American Petroleum Institute in April of 1998. It outlines a very specific and detailed plan by oil and gas industry representatives to invest millions of dollars in an effort to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol and discredit the scientific consensus opinion that greenhouse gases are causing the planet to warm.

    Here is the actual leaked document:

    The draft plan, titled “Global Climate Science Communications Action Plan,” concedes that opposition to the protocol is not shared by the public or a vast majority of scientists worldwide. “There has been little, if any, public resistance or pressure applied to Congress to reject the treaty, except by those ‘inside the Beltway’ with vested interests,” it notes.

    The Bush administration was notorious for interfering with science. The US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform charged the Bush administration with interfering with federal climate science, in order to underplay the significance of global warming. The committee issued a report after a 16-month investigation and released a memo stating that documents “appear to portray a systematic White House effort to minimize the significance of climate change.”

    An examination of thousands of pages of internal documents that the White House has been forced to relinquish under the Freedom of Information Act – as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration scientists and climate-policy officials – confirms that the White House has implemented an industry-formulated disinformation campaign designed to actively mislead the American public on global warming and to forestall limits on climate polluters.

    You deniers need to get their villains straight or soon they will be adding their mama to the list of conspirators.


    1. We would comprehend better if you did not write in ALL CAPS. Thanks! Pavement and rooftops do cause local warming, but I don’t think they are a major cause of global warming.

  4. The dedication you bible thumpers of CO2 show is predictable, considering that just like any other religion, you make a virtue out of no evidence, only nn faith and faith in “science” gods, that this PREDICTION will come to pass. History will study this like modern day witch burning. We all want the same thing, a safe environment, but this CO2 mistake is leading us away from population control, the REAL issue. Meanwhile, the UN had allowed carbon trading to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education for just over 24 years of climate crisis warnings.

Leave a Reply