Words mean something. Is this deception by design or just a dumb mistake?


I saw the headline below from ‘The Numbers Guy’, Mr Carl Bialik, of the Wall Street Journal. It’s on their Facebook page. The key phrase that troubles me is, “climate catastrophes.”  I didn’t know, up to this point, that the past decade had actually had any “climate catastrophes”. There have been some “weather catastrophes”, big storms, such as floods, tornadoes, blizzards and hurricanes including Andrew and Katrina. “The Numbers Guy” lists Andrew and Katrina in his bar chart and this suggests to me that he thinks “weather” = “climate”. And that confuses me because “weather” and “climate” are two very different things.

Climate, according to Dictionary.com is

the composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region, as temperature, air pressure, humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness, and winds, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years.”

Weather, on the other hand, is

“the state of the atmosphere with respect to wind, temperature, cloudiness, moisture, pressure, etc.”

So, storms and weather are not climate (though they are part of what characterizes a climate) and climates are not storms and weather though they are partly characterized by the nature of storms.

Mr Bialik is “The Numbers Guy” and that might explain his confusion with words “storm” and “climate”. Maybe it’s an honest mistake. On the other hand, “The Numbers Guy” must be a smart guy because he works for a newspaper with a very positive reputation around the world. Maybe this a case of deception by design.

Certainly, I would like to think it’s just a mistake made by a geek, “The Numbers Guy.” However, the Main Stream Media, including the Wall Street Journal, often hurry to curry favor with politicians, especially the president, and their Quicheoisie friends and colleagues in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and other centers of power. How convenient it is that this bit of information with its incorrect and deceptive vocabulary is published just three days after Barack Obama gave a major speech demanding action on “climate change.”

The Wall Street Journal and other media business should keep in mind that in this Age of the Low Information Voter accuracy and precision in reporting the news is needed more than ever.

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About Mike
A resident of the “30 square miles surrounded by reality,” I spend most of my time teaching economics and statistics to undergraduate students. I enjoy, naturally, economics and business, but also science (I was once an astronomical observatory assistant), politics, photography, food, travel and sports. Madison has grown quite a bit since 1978 when Governor Lee Dreyfus made that remark. According to Wikipedia, Madison is 67.3 square miles of land and 16 square miles of water. Visit http://thisgotmyattention.wordpress.com/about/ for one of my favorite views of the isthmus. Or, why not come visit us! http://visitmadison.com

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