Attuned to a post-modern society where truth is in the eye of the beholder, reportage of climate science is dominated by fudge and misdirection. Even the Green Prince has become so confused that he is to publish his own Glossary. The UK Telegraph reports:
“The Prince of Wales will on Thursday launch a "green glossary" for farmers after warning that environmental jargon is so obscure that it can harm efforts to combat climate change.
The vocabulary being used by NGOs and scientists was “so hard to understand it even appeared to have been deliberately chosen to hide real meanings.”
That is clearly a step forward – but how are non-farmers to cope? The following FAQ is a first attempt to fill this vacuum:
1. Does “climate change” mean changes in the climate?
No. It means dangerous anthropogenic global warming (DAGW); ie a sharp increase in the global mean surface temperature (GMST) arising from changes in the atmosphere caused by human activities. The term that climate scientists now use for actual experienced long-term changes in temperatures, rainfall, sunshine hours, etc is “climate variation”.
2. What does “scientists say” mean?
Nothing. There are millions of scientists and they all say different things. When used by a reputable journalist, it should mean the consensus view in Assessment Reports published by the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These reports are generally signed off by most of the world’s governments.
3. Is the planet warming?
Yes. Over the last 50 years, it has been warming at an average rate of 0.12°C per decade. Since the end of the Little Ice Age in about 1850, the GMST has increased by 1.1°C. At present rates of change, it will increase by a further 0.9°Ç by 2100.
4. Is planetary warming unusual?
No. Since the last glaciation, GMST has fluctuated constantly (it is always either warming or cooling). There are known and unknown regular oscillations caused by planetary orbits, the brightness/magnetic activity of the sun, volcanic and tectonic activity, migrations of ocean currents, etc. The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was warmer than now but, around 1150 AD, was followed by the Little Ice Age (LIA) which persisted until about 1850.
5. Is atmospheric carbon dioxide increasing?
Yes. It is currently estimated to be 0.0042% of the atmosphere, or 420 parts-per-million (ppm) and is currently increasing at an average rate of 2 ppm, as a result of increased emissions from human activities. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 was at a record low of 280 ppm in 1850 and the increase did not have any evident impact on world climate until it exceeded 330 in about 1950.
6. Do humans contribute to global warming?
Yes. Humans make infinitesimally small contributions in myriad ways, but mainly by increasing natural emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and by land use change. The extent of the “advanced greenhouse effect” contribution is unproven and highly controversial.
7. Does nature contribute to global warming?
Yes. The extent of natural variability and forcing is the subject of a thousand opinions but has never been officially assessed. The remit of the IPCC is restricted to human-caused warming. While the consensus IPCC opinion is that human activities cause “most” observed warming, sceptics believe natural effects are dominant and the human contribution is trivial.
8. Are there any “human footprints”?
No. The IPCC view that “more than half” of recent global warming was anthropogenic is largely based on the expert judgment of its WG1 lead authors. They are mainly modellers – who say that the models cannot replicate past temperatures when the human contribution is omitted. Sceptics say the models are neither verified nor validated and have been criticised for “running hot” by the IPCC itself.
9. Is “climate” the same as weather?
No. Climate is local weather averaged over decades, and local weather is not correlated in any way with trend changes in GMST. On a worldwide scale, GMST trends are not well correlated with the either the frequency or intensity of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, storms, floods, droughts or wildfires.
10. Is climate change “an existential threat”?
No. This notion is entirely invented by climate campaigners, and dramatised by politicians/news media. Even the worst case IPCC scenario (combined with the least-accurate computerised models) suggest possible future risk of serious inconvenience only. The latest Assessment Report (AR5) contains no prediction of widespread mortality rates.
11. Can we “save the planet”?
No. Planet Earth was formed about 4.3 billion years before the first humans appeared, and it had more atmospheric CO2 and higher temperatures than now for most of that time. Extensive use of stored fossil fuels began less than a century ago.
12. Would “net zero by 2050” solve global warming?
No. At least not by any detectable amount. It cannot apply to the largest emitters – China and India – which will produce the majority of global emissions in the next 30 years. But even if the USA (the next largest) somehow achieved this goal, it would avert only 0.137°C by 2100. This is barely within the margin of error of measurements.
13. Is “carbon” a pollutant”?
No. All human animal and plant life is mainly made of carbon (and water). Plants are fertilised by carbon dioxide and cannot survive if atmospheric CO2 falls below 250 ppm. The earth’s vegetation has increased by about 14% as a result of the recent growth in ppm.
Barry Brill OBE JP LL.M(Hons) M.ComLaw is a former MP and Minister of Energy, Petrocorp director, and chair of the Gas Council, Power NZ, ESANZ, and EMCO. He is presently the Chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.
 GMST is a statistical construct, derived by extrapolating and averaging daily temperature anomalies gathered from all over the world. Its trends are exceeded by its error margins and its values are uncertain and controversial.
 On geological scales, the last half million years has been one of the coolest periods ever.
 The IPCC says: “It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed warming during the second half of the twentieth century was caused by human…” [check]
 See this article (BB, RS, Secretariat)