In his recent letter, Michael Leamons promotes a common myth—that there has been a nefarious shift in terminology from “global warming” to “climate change.”
However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was founded — by that name — in 1988, and the scientific journal Climatic Change started in the late 1970s. Also, the latest IPCC report, which was released this past October, is titled “Global Warming of 1.5° C.”
Climate change denotes that climate involves not only temperature, but also other surface variables, such as precipitation and wind patterns.
In a 1978 presentation to Exxon management, company science adviser J.F. Black warned that an increase in global temperature of 2 degrees Celsius would be likely to affect the distribution of the world’s rainfall. According to Black: “Some countries would benefit, but others could have their agricultural output reduced or destroyed.”
Consistent with these concerns, the 2019 World Wide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community states that climate hazards like heat waves, droughts and floods “are increasing water and food insecurity around the world,” heightening the risk of social unrest and migration in places like the Middle East.
Our common values like national security and caring for “the least of these” should unify Americans on this issue. Let’s urge our politicians and business leaders to work together and find a path to slow climate change.
Hales Corners, Wisc.