Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Glossary of Global Warming and Climate Terms (updated)

A light-hearted but satirical translation of terms and phrases in scientific papers, internet articles and news reports. Don't take it too seriously but remember that satire is best when a thread of truth (however thin) runs through it. The list is not in alphabetical order because it follows a tenuous narrative - at least, that's my excuse. It's not complete - I just jotted things down as they occurred to me. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free, you know what to do. I had a lot of fun compiling the list; I hope you have some reading it.

Term or phraseTranslation
See Bloggs et al. 2003One day we might read it too
Bloggs et al. 2009We hoped you wouldn't mention that
GlobalBits of the Northern Hemisphere studied
RegionalThe area covered by our map
Ocean acidityOcean alkalinity
Increasing acidityReducing alkalinity
Low pH sea-waterSea-water with hydrochloric acid added
High pH sea-waterSea-water with no hydrochloric acid added
High morbidityLittle buggers don't like hydrochloric acid
W/m²Watts per square metre
WattOne joule per second
WattsThat damn blogger
ProxyTree rings, ice cores or sediments
Tree ringsThe "lonesome pine"
YamalA few "lonesome pines"
The Hockey StickTwo graphs for the price of one
"Nature trick"A surreptitious grafting operation
Statistical techniqueSmooth the hell out of it
Uniform priorsDunno, just smooth the hell out of it
Mediaeval Warm PeriodWe got rid of that (see Statistical technique)
Little Ice AgeAn urban myth (see Statistical technique)
Roman Warm PeriodMan, that was, like, ages ago
Sediment density plotYou mean it's that way up?
Ice coresCompressed ice layers with minute amounts of trapped air
CO2 in ice cores0.03% of the minute amounts of trapped air
Ice core proxyA scientific myth
97% of scientists97% of 77 scientists
Almost all scientistsThe ones we know who agree with us
All scientistsThe Hockey Team
IPCCAn exclusive club for retired railway engineers
IPCC review stageFixing spelling mistakes & checking for 2035
IPCC reportVast report written by 97% of scientists and WWF
WWFWorld Wildlife Fund or World Wide Fund for Nature, depending on the size of the collecting tin
WWF reportsMagazine articles and telephone interviews
GreenpeaceMisguided geeks with a multi-million budget
Rainbow WarriorEntombed in ice at 85°N
EnvironmentalistThe clue's in the mentalist bit
Row-to-the-PoleDragging a heavy boat over the ice to nowhere near the Pole
ConsensusThe bane of true science and research
Peer reviewPal review or a favour repaid
Science reporterReject from the sports desk
Environmental reporterReject from the fashion desk
Climate-change reporterTeaboy who was gettin' just too smart
Natural variabilityOur models don't work
UncertaintyWe don't know why our models don't work
Almost certainThere's a definite possibility
Very likelyWe believe it anyway
CouldProbably won't
MayAlmost certainly won't
MightDefinitely won't
Slightly lower trendNo trend
Flattened offDeclined
Downward spiralSlow decline
Obvious trendWell I can see it
Rapid increaseSlight upward trend
Continued warmingCooling
Rapid warmingSome warming
ProjectionBest guess (see "Climate model" below)
Best estimateGuess
Best guessWe don't know
GuessWe're sure we don't know
We don't knowOh God our help in ages past
Good understandingAs far as we know
Low understandingZero understanding
Poor understandingWe'll shake the dice
IndeterminateEven we couldn't fudge it
CorrelationThe plots are almost the same shape
Good correlationIf you tilt your head to the right and squint
Zero correlationThe "hockey stick" (q.v.) graph
More research neededKeep the funding coming in
Detailed researchThe new guy is very good
UnprecedentedTake our word for it
CaveatMust mention global warming
RebuttedDidn't mention global warming
Temperature datasetReadings from airport runways and A/C vents
Urban heat islandThe temperature of asphalt and concrete
SummerGlobal warming
WinterNatural variability
PrecipitationRain, snow, and what flies off fans
SnowSee it while you can
RainA good thing
FloodToo much of a good thing
TornadoesNever seen 'em before this year
WeatherWhat we're getting today
Extreme weatherWhat we often got before
ClimateLast week in Austin, Texas
Living memoryThe last ten years
Since records beganSince we first had the internet
Mean sea-levelThe sea's always pretty mean
Sea-level riseThe tide's coming in
Extreme sea-level riseThe tide's coming in real fast
Future sea-level riseGotta up the ante
Extreme sea-level riseWe ain't gonna need street-cleaners
Climate modelA form of computerised astrology
Regional climate modelA less accurate form of climate model
Multiple modelsOne of them might be right
Multiple model runsWe picked the results we wanted
Model averagesA total nonsense
Model verificationWe'll get around to it someday
Solar radiationWhat the hell's the sun got to do with it?
SunspotsDamn - I've gone blind in one eye
Sunspot cycleThe latest model with GPS and everything
No - the Sunspot cycleOh - wiggles up an' down, doesn't do much
ENSOWe don't do ocean cycles
Carbon cycleThe "missing sink" is there somewhere
Arctic warmingIt might be a bit less cold there
Antarctic warmingA bit less cold at the tip of the peninsula
Ice shelf collapseMind you, we never looked before....
GlacierA mega-version of what's in your gin-an'-tonic
Melting glaciersThe very few studied; i.e. all of them
Ice sheetI'm sure it was here last week
Arctic meltA kind of baked Alaska but with cheese
Tipping pointBe afraid......
Species extinctionBe very afraid.......
Polar bears threatenedWho'd threaten a polar bear?
EskimosDumb clucks who think they know everything
InuitEskimos who know everything about polar bears
Inuit eldersEskimos smart enough to know just what they don't know
CloudsIf you know how they work, please email us
Cloud seedingWe swear talcum powder's the best
Ozone holeA lower concentration of ozone
Greenhouse effectWhy we all haven't frozen to death
Greenhouse gasesAll atmospheric gases except argon
Carbon dioxide (CO2)A harmless trace gas essential to plant life
CarbonNasty black stuff
Carbon taxA misnomer, a scam
FrackingGetting something for virtually nothing except water and a few holes in the ground
Carbon sequestrationLike fracking in reverse, but getting no bangs for your buck. Eventually, free soda water from your tap
Alternative energyAn alternative to energy
Solar energyMost available when you least need it
Wind energyLeast available when you most need it
Hydro energyFirst find your river
Electric carsWork best when they're plugged in
Hybrid vehicleLike electric cars, but with backup
Water vapourAaaah, but that's a feedback
Climate sensitivityA definite uncertainty
Climate forcingApplication of the definite uncertainty
Climate ChangeGlobal Warming without warming and not global
Global WarmingWhen that "missing heat" reappears...
Climate scienceThe gravy train
DenierSceptic, a seeker after truth
ScepticWhat we should have been
Settled ScienceAn oxymoron, an unproven hypothesis


  1. He he, good list.

    I am goint to post an excerpt of this at my forum.


    1. You're welcome, as would be any additions. They'd have to pass my stringent vetting process, which entails measuring the volume of any guffaw I might utter on viewing each one.