Climate Science

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What does the phrase "climate science" mean to you?  I learned the other day that it can mean almost anything; that is, it all depends what you mean by "science".

The average person in the street might (reasonably in my view) think that the phrase had something to do with how the Earth's climate system works informed by careful empirical studies and by theories that have been developed and tested over time.  It's the sort of thing that school students learn about in physical geography and physics lessons and what climatologists and meteorologists study day-by-day.  The sort of thing that the IPCC works on as it tracks climate change and how badly we are doing at dealing with it.

But they'd be wrong, you see, because, as I was unreliably informed, "science" has to include the social sciences and apparently the humanities as well.  So anyone musing, tweeting, teaching or pontificating about climate justice, climate poverty, climate action, climate anxiety, or somesuch, is a climate scientist.

Words, you see, can mean what you like no matter what others think.  Madness really.  After all, if it had been left to social science (wonderful though it is), we'd still not know what carbon dioxide was.

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