John Harrington* - Kansas State University
Considerable concern exists within the science community about the state of the planet's climate and whether or not the impact of human actions will change the climate system in a significant way. Clearly, improved communication is needed both among the community of researchers and in helping the general public to understand the importance of climate science research findings and related scholarly thought. This paper examines differences in meaning and definitions associated with the words: climate, climatology, climatography, and climatic change. Major sources include the American Meteorological Society Glossary, the IPCC, and the writings of Landsberg, Bryson, and Oliver. It is concluded that change in the statistical distribution of one climate element (e.g., temperature) should not, in itself, constitute a metric by which we judge that climatic change has happened. Rather, both Landsberg and Bryson suggest that climatic change occurs when the climate system crosses a tipping point, such as the system changes that happened at the onset or end of a Pleistocene glacial period. And in 1975, Landsberg labeled climatic variations produced by human actions as: climatic alteration. Since climate scientists have learned the response of increased fossil fuel related carbon dioxide emissions on the climate system, it is concluded that humans are currently involved in intentional climatic alteration or climatic manipulation. A next logical question is: has climatic manipulation produced climatic change?