In real science, phrase ‘climate change’ actually has a different meaning to the phrase ‘global warming’. '‘Global warming’ refers to the increase in the net amount of heat retained by the atmosphere and hydrosphere - it’s a global measure, as the name implies. The phrase ‘climate change’ refers to the effects that this increase has on the prevailing climate in different areas.
However, in politicl/media debate, the two terms have long been used interchangably. This trend was originated in 1997/98 by US Republican strategist Frank Luntz (read his original memo discussing this here), and thereafter spread throughout AGWdenialist political parties all over the world. Howard was a big proponent of it in Australia, for instance. Luntz argued that using the term ‘climate change’ made it sound less catastrophic and more controllable than the term ‘global warming’.
It’s time for us to start talking about “climate change” instead of global warming and “conservation” instead of preservation. “Climate change” is less frightening than “global warming”. As one focus group participant noted, climate change “sounds like you’re going from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale.” While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge.
I haven’t heard about this particular tizzy that the denialist blogosphere has worked itself into, but I’ll make some predictions on how this will pan out based on this sort of thing happening many, many, many times before
- sorfed’s heroic heretics (you may roll your eyes now) will release their numbers, to great fanfare. It will scream ‘oh noes climate scientists changed the data! Soros Gore Flannery Satan!’ 'It will receive a great deal of attention from the usual suspects in Conspiracytheoryland, and will get signal boosted as media outlets report on it uncritically because they’re addicted to ‘report the controversy’ even when the people pimping this latest bit of the ‘controversy’ have a long history of promoting baseless controversies against legitimate science.
- actual real scientists will examine the numbers. They will establish that yes, the data was adjusted, for reasons that are thoroughly scientifically solid and based on science that has been sitting around uncontroversially in the peer-reviewed literature for decades. The proofs of this will be long and mathematical complex and very few people will bother reading them. This goes double for the ‘scientific’ coverage in popular media, who seem to be constitutionally incapable of hearing about a AGW conspiracy theory without giving it undeserved airtime which goes only to portray a false equivalence.
- Nobody who popularised the original faux-scandal will bother addressing the refutations of their claims. Instead, they will continue to signal-boost among themselves and in sympathetic or incompetent media outlets. The ‘scientists tampered with data from 3 stations’ meme will becomes as embedded in the heads of denialists as ‘no warming since 1998’’ and ‘CO2 is beneficial plant food’ and ‘they changed the name to climate change because the warming stopped’ memes, and will be just as full of ■■■■. Sorfed and his spiritual heirs will still be spouting it in a decade, despite it having being thoroughly debunked hundreds of times in the intervening years.
I’m only vaguely aware of this particular storm in a denialist teacup. If you have a link that lays its claims out clearly then I’ll certainly have a look, but your assertion that Hansen (or anyone else rational) would have based his assessment of global warming on any SINGLE dataset of frigging tree rings rather than, I dunno, the many vast datasets of air and sea temperature measurements, satellite tracking, reflectivity and icecap coverage monitoring, solar intensity, rainfall, etc etc etc is so utterly laughable.and stupid as to be beneath contempt. I’m not particularly across the ‘33 trees’ denialist meme, but from the outside it looks like a piece of incomplete or confusing data that has been seized on by people who don’t understand it because it can be cherry-picked or spun to create useful denialist copy. Because that’s the way these things tend to work.
Tree rings in the context of AGW science are all about paleoclimate. There are other ways to measure paleoclimate,such as ice cores and silt cores, so I’d guess off-hand that this tree ring series was an attempt to get an idea of what paleoclimate was like in one particular area over a relatively short time window (the life of the trees) and there were only a few trees in the area old enough to provide useful data. And incomplete data is not great, but it’s better than no data at all, so long as you don’t put too much weight on it when drawing your conclusions.