The term has both appropriate and inappropriate usage.
This is a mirror of my guest post at Prof Curry’s ‘Climate Etc’ blog last week:
CAGW: a ‘snarl’ word?
Footnotes file here (common to ‘The Catastrophe Narrative’ companion post below):
Rational Wiki says: ‘“CAGW”, for “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”, is a snarl word (or snarl acronym) that global warming denialists use for the established science of climate change. A Google Scholar search indicates that the term is never used in the scientific literature on climate.’10
Where in turn the link for ‘snarl word’ says: ‘A snarl word is a derogatory label that can be attached to something (or even to people), in order to dismiss their importance or worth, without guilt. When used as snarl words, these words are essentially meaningless; most of them can be used with meaning, but that seldom happens.’
So setting aside the snarl implications of the word ‘denialist’11 above, is all the usage of the ‘CAGW’ acronym meaningless, i.e. it is essentially a snarl word only? Or is there significant meaning associated with some usage? i.e. does it have legitimate, ‘non-snarl’ currency also, associated with real meaning?
In typical usage ‘CAGW’ may be followed by words such as narrative, message, story, line, debate, controversy, mantra, meme, myth, scare, hysteria, hoax, scam, religion, cult, cause, movement, believers, faithful, crowd, advocates, promoters, proponents, consensus, theory, hypothesis, premise, claim, case, conjecture and various others. Or it may appear in sentences without any direct descriptors such as those above, for example: ‘Proof positive that CAGW is about power, politics and greed is the fact that…’, ‘Without this strong feedback there is no real basis for CAGW since…’, ‘I have been waiting for someone, anyone, to enunciate a unique, broadly accepted goal for a program to “dodge” the CAGW “bullet”…’, ‘Cost / benefit analysis is apparently against the rules when it comes to CAGW…’, ‘The alarm is not about a warming of the globe, nor particularly AGW. It is about CAGW’.12
These demonstrate a much wider application than for just the ‘established science’, which I take to mean mainstream science, as expressed in the Working Group Chapters13 of the IPCC’s latest full report (AR5), so hereafter AR5WGC. Whether or not any such usages of ‘CAGW’ are justified, they are broadly categorized (albeit with overlaps, especially meme and consensus at the boundaries) as follows:
- expressing a communication aspect, applicable not only to climate scientists but to any parties communicating or exchanging on climate change, such as social authority sources, policy makers, NGOs, businesses, other scientists, whoever, and reflected by the words above starting narrative, message and similar.
- expressing a social phenomenon aspect, whether assumed to have deliberate causation or emergent causation, and reflected by the words starting, myth, scare and similar.
- expressing the aspect of adherents of the phenomena in b), as reflected by the words starting believers, faithful and similar, OR of subscribers to the science per d), OR both.
- expressing the science aspect, as reflected by the words starting theory, hypothesis and similar.
- expressing the aspect of actual physical climate change, sarcastically or not, as being potentially catastrophic (usually without extra descriptors in this context).
Usage without descriptors per the example sentences, are generally contextualized by one of these same categories.
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