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2023 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #32

Posted on 12 August 2023 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news and opinion articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, Aug 6, 2023 thru Sat, Aug 12, 2023.

Story of the Week

With Temperature and Other Climate Extremes Shattering Records, Should We Call it 'Global Boiling'? 'Weirding'? Or...?

The U.N. Secretary-General says the era of 'global boiling' has arrived. Is that over the top, or an effective metaphor? Climate scientists, communication experts, and others weigh in. 



Broad swaths of Earth's seas are running very hot right now, as seen in this map showing how sea surface temperatures on July 30, 2023 compared to the long-term average. (Credit: Climate Reanalyzer)

At a news conference a few days ago, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced that July will go down as the warmest month on record. And it won't be remotely close.

"We don't have to wait for the end of the month to know this," he said, speaking on July 27. "Short of a mini ice age over the next days, July 2023 will shatter records across the board." Continuing, he said, "Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning."

Then he used a stunning metaphor to drive home what we humans are doing to planet Earth: "The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived."

Since my first story about climate change in 1984, I've heard all manner of rhetorical attempts to describe it in just a few words. But this one really took me aback. I've long believed that "doomist" rhetoric prompts many people to flee, rather than fight for a sustainable future.

There's a fair amount of support for this view. For example, Per Espen Stocknes, a psychologist and economist at the Norwegian Business School, has written extensively about it (for example, here), arguing that doomist rhetoric backfires. In a Ted Talk that's been viewed nearly 100,000 times on Youtube, he summarizes why he holds this view:

Click here to access the entire article as originally posted on the Discover Magazine website. 

With Temperature and Other Climate Extremes Shattering Records, Should We Call it 'Global Boiling'? 'Weirding'? Or...? by Tom Yulsman, Environment, Discover Magazine, July 31, 2023

Articles posted on Facebook

Sunday, Aug 6, 2023

Monday, Aug 7, 2023

Tuesday, Aug 8, 2023

Wednesday, Aug 9, 2023

Thursday, Aug 10, 2023

Friday Aug 11, 2023

Saturday Aug 12, 2023

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Comments 1 to 2:

  1. Regarding "With Temperature and Other Climate Extremes Shattering Records, Should We Call it 'Global Boiling'? 'Weirding'? Or...? by Tom Yulsman"

    The idea discussed is that too much doomy rhetoric demotivates people. This is correct. It can have a deadening effect on people where they give up on contemplating solutions and habituate to the doom and just choose to live with the problem as best they can, like people in a war zone frequently do. 

    If there is any doomy rhetoric, its important to at least offer people solutions.

    Another idea discussed is that creating too much climate fear is not a good thing.This is different from doomy rhetoric. However fear is a natural human motivator. We are hardwired genetically to feel fear when threatened and this generally motivates action. We communicate threats to each other that will cause fear and motivate action. This is all psychology 101. So its absurd to suggest we should somehow soften rhetoric to not make people fearful. This would be a dangerous manipulation that could backfire. It would not even be accurate.

    However if the climate threat is innacurately described or exaggerated to try to cause fear this could backfire horribly because its likely the innacuracies or exaggerations will be exposed. We also cant solve problems effectively If we dont state them as accurately as possible neither understating or overstating a problem.

    The reasons for the slow pace of climate action are probably not so much the way the threat is communicated anyway. Most people must know the basic problem by now and the scientists consider it serious, unless they have been living under a rock for the last 25 years. The reasons for slow progress are many and varied but one issue is we are psychologically hardwired to respond most urgently to immediate threats (like a wild animal attacking us) rather than slowly unfolding future threats like climate change even if they are very serious. Given climate change is now being more present and dramatic this might start motivate more change. Reference:


    Other reasons are raised by people like OPOF to do with many  leaders in society being reluctant to make lifestyle changes or support carbon taxes, because they are very addicted to materialistic displays of wealth as status signals.

    However these problems do suggest to me we should try to motivate people to make changes by putting a lot of focus on the wider benefits of climate solutions, like EV's being more reliable cars, less reliance on imported petrol, cleaner electricity generation, etcetera.This is actually probably why renewables are gaining some traction.

    Daniel Glick says " In communicating about that threat, we’ve tried terms like global warming, global weirding, climate emergency, and now global boiling." And he asks if any of this gets through to people and motivates people to make changes.

    I can only give my gut reaction. Global warming - accurate. Climate emergency - a bit too colourful for me and people easily dismiss it as an exaggeration by giving examples of obvious dramatic and very present emergencies like Ukraine war. Global boiling - quite good. Nobody with any sense takes it literally, but this sort of satirical hyperbole might resonate with people. It does with me. Global weirding - accurate.

    Just call anthropogenic climate change what it is: a huge problem for reasons xyz but that we have viable solutions. 

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    Moderator Response:

    [RH] Shortened link.

  2. One issue we all have here is just what constitutes 'doomerism'? It's a term that is currently thrown around too loosely.

    One man's doom is another's bad weather day, after all. The ultimate picture is that Earth and biodiversity will survive the human age. We know that through the fossil record. Evolution will once again fill any gaps it can over a few million years. That has happened time and again through the deep past.

    So putting that aside, it's about  - as Katharine Hayhoe's book title clearly states - saving us! In that case, 'doomerism' needs a very clear definition, for I do not think there is such a thing at present.

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