Climate Change is a Social Science

The post What is Climate? Is it changing? explained how “Climate Change” is a double abstraction: it refers to the derivative (change) in our expectations (patterns) of weather. Thus studies of “Climate Change” are a branch of social science, not physical science.

For example, here is a typical study, without the pretense or claim to be doing physical science.

Extreme weather perceptions in your neighbourhood and beyond, Published in Environmental Sociology, by Dr Matthew J. Cutler of the University of New Hampshire, USA. (here)

The author of the study, Dr Cutler, found that although higher household earnings were negatively associated with perceptions of extreme weather, homeownership was indeed a contributing factor – stating that “homeownership and lower incomes appear to independently increase perceptions.” Age, gender, education and political persuasion were also significantly related to extreme weather perceptions. Odds were higher among younger, female, more educated, and Democratic respondents to perceive effects from extreme weather than older, male, less educated, and Republican respondents.


Climate Science is properly identified as a branch of Environmental Sociology. Its focus on “Climate Change” aims to understand how and why people perceive weather patterns to be changing or dangerous.

For the sake of human health and prosperity, all studies pertaining to Climate Change should be appreciated as social science investigations, having nothing to do with natural science or physics. Needless to say, any public policy proposals regarding Climate Change can not be evaluated as having any beneficial effect upon the physical world. They are solely motivated by social perceptions and concerns, and should be assessed on the costs and impacts required to reduce levels of concern.

Climate Science Culture War

Climate Science Culture War




  1. hunter · April 7, 2016

    So correct
    So well said and concise.


  2. malanlewis · April 7, 2016

    An interesting concept, however there is no “Climate Change Science.” There is climatology, the study of climate, defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time, but there is no discipline of Climate Change Science.

    That being said, it is true that the non-scientific perception of climate variation is a social phenomenon, subject to the whims and fads of social diversity. That’s why we have the scientific method, to weed out transitory social perceptions from the objective descriptions and explanation of the scientific method.

    Stick to the science.


    • Ron Clutz · April 7, 2016

      Malan, the Australian Academy of Sciences disagrees with you. The content is of course the set of beliefs to be embraced.


      • malanlewis · April 7, 2016

        In order to understand the meaning, it’s necessary to read beyond the headline.

        The “science of Climate Change” is not equated to “Climate Change Science”. It’s an examination of the science within the study of climate change.

        “It sets out to explain the current situation in climate science, including where there is consensus in the scientific community and where uncertainties exist”


      • Ron Clutz · April 7, 2016

        A distinction without a difference.


  3. Bob Greene · April 7, 2016

    Yes, but it is change you can believe in. If you are a true believer. Tell one that the term is meaningless as they are using it and you get the deer in the headlights look.


    • malanlewis · April 7, 2016

      “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”
      ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

      Liked by 1 person

  4. joekano76 · April 7, 2016

    Reblogged this on TheFlippinTruth.


    • malanlewis · April 8, 2016

      This is why capitalization, punctuation and syntax are so important, and so sorely missed in these days of tiny keyboards and instant electronic gratification.

      The words “the science of Climate Change” do not convey the same meaning as the words Climate Change Science. The former refers to the science (climatology) that explains the processes of climate change. The latter postulates a nonexistent discipline.

      There is no Climate Change Science. There is a legitimate science of Climate Change: climatology.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. ArndB · April 8, 2016

    Sorry for some length, even though my text is very brief, in an incredible long story, in which the word CLIMATE could hardly be heard professionally in the 1940s (see below: F. Kenneth HARE).

    „Climate Change“ is a tricky issue, as it can be attributed to many things, which actually explains nothing, if „climate“ is not defined in the first place. Sheer nonsense is to define climate as average weather, because that also requires defining ‘weather’ clearly and concise. The UNFCCC (Rio-Convention 1992) is offering neither something on climate nor on weather! What an incredible flaw of a legal document, and a shame for academically trained scientists. The problem is that every individual “understands” a lot about weather, as weather is closer to him than his home, clothes, or undershirt. Why are the British known to talk about weather lengthy? Because they have first to find out about what weather items they want to talk about (due to their closeness to maritime Atlantic weather). There are many dozen, if not hundreds. The same applies for CLIMATE, which ancient Greeks used already, originally meaning the inclination of the sun. Today it is often used as synonym of weather statistics, but a statistic is a statistic and remains a statistic. Several statistics do not ‘make’ weather.

    As I have discussed already some time ago here:
    According the Glossary of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the weather issue is broken down to:
    • The “present weather” table consists of 100 possible conditions,
    • with 10 possibilities for “past weather”, while
    • Popularly, weather is thought of in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind.
    Even if the AMS-Glossary is silent on “future weather”, the nonsense gets a face. If the “weather” consists of 100 possible conditions, how can “past weather” consist only of 10 conditions? Who is making the selection? Who decides over the period of time, whether data are used over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years? What are the “10 possibilities for past weather”? Which mix of data represents the past weather or the future weather? The extreme shortcoming of the explanation is revealed by the reference to “popularly weather”, which may reflect the layman’s version reasonably, but not necessarily. If AMS Glossary actually says that popular weather exist –presumably- of five conditions, past weather consists of 10 conditions and present weather consists of 100 conditions it seems that this is nonsense talking. There is no such thing as small, medium, and big weather, with few, several, or many dynamo-physical atmospheric elements. Weather is either weather, or it is statistics on weather components.

    Back in 1992, a Letter to the Editor of „NATURE“ expressed – inter alias – the view:
    For too long, climate has been defined as the average weather and Rio was not able to define it at all. Instead, the Climate Change Convention uses the term ‘climate system’, defining it as “the totality of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere and their interactions”. All that this boils down to is ‘the interactions of the natural system’. What is the point of a legal term if it explains nothing? For decades, the real question has been who is responsible for the climate. Climate should have been defined as ‘the continuation of the oceans by other means’.

    _____F. Kenneth Hare, 1979; „The Vaulting of Intellectual Barriers: The Madison Thrust in Climatology“, Bulletin American Meteorological Society , Vol. 60, 1979, p. 1171 – 1124
    “This is obviously the decade in which climate is coming into its own. You hardly heard the word professionally in the 1940s. It was a layman’s word. Climatologists were the halt and the lame. And as for the climatologists in public service, in the British service you actually, had to be medically disabled in order to get into the climatological division ! Climatology was a menial occupation that came on the pecking scale somewhat below the advertising profession. It was clearly not the age of climate.”


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