In English precision in language matters. Why do we have three words ships, trucks and planes to describe the same thing? Aren’t they all just large modes of transportation? Why do we feel the need to distinguish between a mode of transportation on water, land or air? Language is a tool that is used to communicate. English is one of the languages with the most words which allows it a level of precision not available in all other languages.
So in the current environmental discussions should we be talking about climate change or global warming?
Global warming implies that the earth has had a stable temperature through out the ages and that this temperature is now on the rise. Climate change simply implies that climate is changing maybe it includes temperature maybe it doesn’t. Climate change also doesn’t imply a prior stable environment but simply a change. There may or may not have been several periods of climate change. In fact we know from ice samples taken from glaciers that the earth has had periods of relative warmth and periods of relative cold throughout the ages.
The increasing push to make language a tool of confusion instead of what it has been for the human race a tool of precision that confers on human beings the ability to articulate and communicate complex thoughts confuses issues and doesn’t allow one to learn from history. To properly describe what the earth is undergoing we should be discussing climate change as only this term allows the historical truth to provide context for our current problems and potentially solutions to these problems.