Thursday, October 8, 2009

Defining "Climate Change"

“Whoever defines the issue controls the debate.” –Timothy Cummings
Environmentalists have dropped the term "global warming." Maybe not completely, but there is a shift in the environmental movement that moves away from talk of "global warming" in favor of discussing "climate change." This is an insidious move because the term lacks any clarity on what it might mean.
I'm not saying that anyone working to debunk the global warming myth is wasting their efforts. But I am warning that conservatives do not want to appear "out-of-date" on this issue. Rather soon, I believe, environmentalists will concede that global warming is not a threat. But the caveat will be that they are still right in their premise, that human activity may* be affecting the global climate (another meaningless term). Indications of cooling temperatures will be co-opted into climate change theory, regardless of the actual causes.
As for "global warming deniers," they will actually be credited for realizing the “true” climate change trend. But their premise, that climate change is a constant with or without human activity, will be disregarded. Anyone who continues using the term “global warming” after that will be ridiculed as out-of-touch, behind-the-times and compared to Confederate flag waving southerners fighting long ended battles.
Case in point: The EPA website has no page devoted to global warming any longer. You will not find the term on the EPA home page. With help from archive.org’s Wayback Machine, I’ve determined that the phrase “global warming” has been gone from the EPA homepage since about January 25, 2006. In fact, you can’t find the term on any page directly linked to the home page. It takes a minimum of three clicks to locate the term “global warming.” Nor will you find it on the EPA topics page: http://www.epa.gov/epahome/topics.htm
When searching the EPA website for the term “global warming,” the first result links to the following URL: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ On that page, one will find the following blurb: “Climate Change or Global Warming? The phrase 'climate change' is growing in preferred use to 'global warming' because it helps convey that there are changes in addition to rising temperatures."
My premise is that I think it would behoove conservatives to step away from global warming debunking and move toward defining the term “climate change” within a logical framework before it enters the common lexicon. There is no denying climate change is real, we see it with every passing front and each year with the change of seasons. Our planet has undergone epochs of tropics and ice. Deserts and forests have literally migrated across Earth’s surface within recorded history.
But the environmental movement has glommed onto the term “climate change” and is beginning to charge it to suit its ends. We, as conservatives, can help shape the general understanding of those words so that they will be rendered ridiculous in any conversation attempting to link climate change with human activity.
An example of where this has not happened is with the term “greenhouse gas.” Greenhouse gasses are normal, natural things essential to our atmosphere’s proper functioning. True, human activity does emit some of these gasses, but in amounts so overwhelmingly insignificant, it ought to be laughable to think our contribution is meaningful. However, the average Joe thinks our factories and automobiles are spewing immeasurable quantities of some unnatural pollutant called CO2, simply because they only understand the situation with the definitions they have been given.
*Note: The expression that human activity may contribute to climate change is commonly used. Many environmental agencies that wish to retain credibility shy away from making this connection directly, since they know full-well that their premise has a sandy foundation at best. This is a chink in the armor of the environmentalist stance. Exploit it.

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