It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Monday, October 26, 2015

The fever is not the disease

Our problem is uncontrolled anthropogenic climate change.

The global temperature is a measure of the change, but it is not the change we care about. We care about what happens on the ground at one place and another as the temperature changes.

"Global warming" is like the fever; climate disruption is the disease.

You can eliminate a fever with an ice bath, but you'll just stress the patient. While someone with an abnormal body temperature is probably sick, having a normal body temperature does not prove that someone is well.

A lot of analogies are easily strained but this one is pretty good. We're obsessing over a number, sometimes even to the exclusion of the patient's health.

Shifting goalposts? Maybe for you. I said this before the hiatus and I am saying it now that the hiatus is disappearing into the puff of smoke that it was.

"Global warming" is just a symptom.

3 comments:

Anna said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jg said...

I recall you saying this a long time ago, but I don't recall when. So, instead of 'shifting goal posts', a word choice that incorrectly implies you're playing a game, I'd say you issued a correction as soon as you recognized the need for one.

Michael Tobis said...

An anonymous commenter asks:

===
Would you say we have a problem here:
https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/whats-difference-between-global-warming-and-climate-change

Given that it's funded by taxpayer money and it's a site that's meant to be authoritative & to help inform, how do we find out what's gone wrong in NOAA's communications dept, and what tools can be used to help find out, that don't thereby become cudgels to be wielded against scientists who are operating in good faith?
===

I would say the article is fine, and I would have written it similarly.