Climate change is no word game

To the Editor:

John Shewchuk claims 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 1970’s.  In addition, the latest IPCC report, released in October of 2018, 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.”

These are the types of climate impacts that world hunger organizations like Bread for the World and Christian Aid are observing today.

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 caring for “the least of these” should unify Americans on this issue.  Let’s urge our members of Congress to work together and find a path to slow climate change.


IPCC established in 1988

Scientific journal Climatic Change started in 1978

IPCC report: Global Warming of 1.5 °C

James F. Black quote (Summary, bottom of first page)

Christian Aid’s position on climate

Bread for the World and climate change

2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment (p. 23)—SSCI.pdf

Terry Hansen
Hales Corners, Wisconsin