A new change to the AP Stylebook, a style and usage guide used by news organizations, allows the terms “global warming” and “climate change” to be used “interchangeably,” though the Associated Press considers climate change to be “more accurate scientifically.”
The new entry on the divisive terms were unveiled on Friday, sparking fiery online dissent and accusations that the style guide is following the lead of other climate change activists who stopped using the term “global warming” when the figures on rising temperatures were no longer adding up.
Researchers generally agree that the rate of “global warming” has slowed in recent years, with some referring to it as a “pause.” Some critics believe the so-called “pause” and the increased use of “climate change” rather than “global warming” is correlated.
First, let’s review the AP’s official new guidelines on global warming and/or climate change:
The terms global warming and climate change can be used interchangeably. Climate change is more accurate scientifically to describe the various effects of greenhouse gases on the world because it includes extreme weather, storms and changes in rainfall patterns, ocean acidification and sea level. But global warming as a term is more common and understandable to the public.
Though some public officials and laymen and only a few climate scientists disagree, the world's scientific organizations say that the world's climate is changing because of the buildup of heat-trapping gases, especially carbon dioxide, from the burning of coal, oil and gas. This is supported by more than 90 percent of the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
In a joint publication in 2014, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of the United Kingdom stated: "Human activities â€” especially the burning of fossil fuels since the start of the Industrial Revolution â€” have increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations by about 40 percent, with more than half the increase occurring since 1970. Since 1900, the global average surface temperature has increased by about 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit). This has been accompanied by warming of the ocean, a rise in sea level, a strong decline in Arctic sea ice, and many other associated climate effects. Much of this warming has occurred in the last four decades."
Now we can take a look at how people reacted to the news -- and nearly every single reply to the AP Stylebook's announcement of the new climate change entry was critical:
@APStylebook I don't think the words "accurate" and "scientifically" fit in a story on climate change.— Kevin Meyer (@KCchemguy) March 27, 2015