Global Warming or Climate Change

There’s a longstanding debate about whether we should use “climate change” or “global warming” in describe the global climate change-warming thingie. In that regard, this data from Google’s new search terms trends monitoring tool:
Google trends graph

This is the relative use by people searching on Google of the terms “global warming” (blue line) and “climate change” (red line). It suggests the general public searching on Google uses “global warming” far more often. It validates a technique I’ve used in my work. I believe “climate change” more accurately describes what we’re talking about, because many of the relevant issues involve things other than merely rising temperature. On the other hand, “global warming” is the buzz phrase people will have already heard. So I try to use both, talking primarily about “climate change” but at least once, early in a story, invoking the phrase “global warming” to clue people in to what I’m talking about using language they’re already familiar with.

The bottom graph is espcially instructive. That’s the relative frequency of the two phrases as used in the news media searched by Google News. You can see they match up quite closely, suggesting the media is using the two phrases interchangeably.


  1. OK, OK, I’ll do it:

    John, that blue line looks like a hockey stick. Therefore the data are immediately suspect, as I have been trained to marginalize the totem.



  2. You know the story. Climate change is for real. Now these questions that must be asked:

    1. Who will go to live in these northern and southern polar cities envisioned by James Lovelock and others?

    2. Who will decide who gets to live there? The UN? The big rich countries? Who?

    3. Who will design and build these polar cities and towns?

    4. Should they be built now, when we have time and resources and air transport and fuel available, and get them ready for the future when the world MIGHT need them, or should we wait until later, when it might be too late to build things or transport materials?

    5. How many people can these polar cities and towns support? 100,000? One million? More?

    6. . Who will run and rule these cities?

    7. Will the children of rich and powerful people from developed nations go first? To these cities, that is.

    10. Who will plan for food resoruces, enterainment, TV, radio, newpapers, Internet, money there?

    11. How long will the Global WINTER last? 10,000 years, 100,000 years? More?

    12. Are we in big trouble, caused mostly by our own hands on the CO2 spigot all these years? What can we do to solve the problem?

    12. How to repopulate the middle regions of the Earth once an hospitable climate comes BACK to to those areas after the long global winter, the day after tomorrow, so to speak?

    13. What will be left down there in the middle regions? Cities? Wasteland?

    14. What does Whitley Strieber think about polar cities? He wrote the novelization of the book about the movie about the day after tomorrow.

    15. What will James Lovelock in the UK say when he reads this blog? Or Tim Flannery in Australia? or Phil Clapp in DC?

  3. No relation, Steve, but see and you will be pleasantly surbloomed!

  4. Regarding my “polar cities” post, above, I appreciate all the good and well-thought out replies, both pro and con, and those giving advice, and adding new perspectives, especially John Mashey’s 99 post. Thanks, everyone, for your responses. I am digesting what you’ve said and will put it my noggin for some more thinkin’.

    It’s hard to talk about such a wild concept as polar cities for the year 2500, because yes, nobody wants to talk about something so far away, and maybe undoable anyways, but I do want to add here, so everyone understands my concept better: my blog and posts about polar cities, which I began 12 months ago, is what I hope is a “non threatening thought experiment” mainly to get people thinking about taking action NOW, and to scare those people who still need scaring, not anyone here of course, into taking action about global warming NOW. So please look at my polar cities idea, what I also refer to as ARCTOPIA, as a kind of online guerilla theatre for these times. Some people have told me to give it up, others have emailed me and said “keep pushing the idea, it’s a good way to alert people who still need alerting.” That’s the main thing I am trying to do. I am not trying to convince any of you here. But you have given me good ideas as feedback, and that is what i wanted. Thanks.

    My guess is one day soon there WILL BE a govt report or a think tank report on “sustainable population retreats” (SPRs) in the future. As a post above said, this global warming thing entails science and it also entails society. I remain an optimist. I see humanity getting through this thing. But I am also reading all these very good posts here, and they are important. We need facts, and we also need visions.

  5. Danny Bloom wrote: “with all these reports out there saying that a Mad Max scenario might happen one day […] why are no think tanks issuing reports now about how people might live in those distant years, say 2500? Why is no one discussing polar cities or actual real sustainable northern retreats where people might have to live to serve as breeding pairs in the Arctic, in Lovelock’s famous words?”

    A poster did reply: “I’ll speculate about the reason, danny. Such “sustainable polar retreats” will have a carrying capacity sufficient to sustain only a tiny percentage of the Earth’s current human population. Perhaps only one percent. And who will that be? It will be the Earth’s ultra-rich, ultra-powerful elite, the “top one percent”, who command the wealth and resources required to construct and operate nuclear-powered, climate controlled enclaves in the Far North, and defend them with private mercenary armies.

    The rest of the Earth’s billions of humans will perish, surely beginning with the poorest, but the middle-class and “merely” rich people of the industrialized nations will perish as well when the rising tide (literally and metaphorically) of climate chaos leads to the collapse of modern societies.

    So, discussions about building these cities are probably in fact vigorously underway, in *certain circles*; (!!!) but those discussions are not for the general public to hear or participate in. Indeed the agenda of those “certain circles” is that the public must be “protected” from the truth about global warming and climate change, so that they will continue business as usual (ie. shopping) and continue to drive the machine known as the “consumer economy” so it will continue to enrich the rich for as long as possible. They are well aware that they are going to need as much wealth and power as they can possibly accumulate to survive what’s coming. The last thing they need is for “consumer confidence” to drop because people are worried about having to evacuate Florida and move to the Polar Circle.”

  6. Lovers of all things green and those of you, who, like me, live everyday with a twisted knot of dread at the thought of our future, given the climate crisis, should check out a very interesting posting on ‘Polar Cities’ by blogger Dan Bloom.

    Bloom presents and elaborates on the idea proposed by Dr. James Lovelock (he of ‘Gaia hypothesis’ fame) that those of us who survive the fierce global warming yet to come may well opt to live in Arctic communities – hence, ‘polar cities’.

    Check out the original post here:

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