Saturday, 1 February 2014

Weather games

Ngram Viewer for the terms "climate change" and "weather forecast"

The distinction between climate science and weather forecasting is a language game. If catastrophic climate change had been sold as radical weather forecasts, we’d never have believed a word of it. Even politicians might have been reluctant to engage in such an obviously flaky game.

How much difference would it have made :-

If climate change had been called radical weather trends.
If global warming had been called warmer weather.
If catastrophic global warming had been called much warmer weather.
If climate scientists had been called radical weather forecasters.
If wind turbines were justified by radical ultra-long weather forecasts.

I’m not being entirely serious here of course. We are where we are and we are stuck with the dominant language games, but in my view the point still has some merit. It is still possible to see the apocalyptic climate narrative as a language game and note with interest how players choose to use language in tackling a recalcitrant climate.

After all, language games and political radicalism are hardly unusual bedfellows. Social and political games promoted by manipulating the words we use, the phrases we are persuaded to imitate.

So it is easy enough to see how misleading the terms climate, climate science and climate scientist are compared to weather, weather forecasting and weather forecasters. Maybe in the early eighties it was seen as important to take the climate narrative into more authoritative territory. Maybe we are just too familiar with weather forecasters and their forecasts. 

This may also explain why the weird weather narrative isn’t pushed as hard as it might be. Too many people might tie climate change to weather forecasting and that would never do.


Optimistic Existentialist said...

Very educational. I think I learned a lot here because I always confuse them.

Demetrius said...

Weather is what it is. In colloquial terms it is of the now and short time and necessarily variable. Climate is overall and a collection of long term patterns that break down in the short term to local weather conditions. Many descriptive words just confuse the issues, notably such as "weird" or similar referring to variable conditions that are rare or unforeseen. I think.

A K Haart said...

OE - I think they are intentionally confused.

Demetrius - to my mind what was originally forecast were rapid changes to weather patterns potentially leading to a difference big enough to call a change in climate.

However, I think the weather aspect of forecasting has been avoided because it is too familiar.

Dan Pangburn said...

Discover the cause of the warming, the end of it, and why temperatures are headed down.

Two primary drivers of average global temperatures explain the reported up and down measurements since before 1900 with 90% accuracy and provide credible estimates back to the low temperatures of the Little Ice Age (1610).

CO2 change is NOT one of the drivers.

The drivers are given at which includes eye opening graphs and a plethora of links and sub-links to credible data sources.

A K Haart said...

Dan - thanks for the link. I've bookmarked it.