Baby Names to Change because of …. Climate Change

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Climate Change

Opinion by Kip Hansen — 29 November 2022

If you thought that The Science had run out of things to blame on Climate Change, then you lack imagination.  Now the field of “evolutionary ecology” [no need to ask me why I have added quote marks to that] has entered the fray with a new entry.

Such a shame that John Brignell’s “complete list of things caused by global warming” stopped being updated in 2015.  Brignell’s official reason for discontinuing the updates:

Footnote (September 2015) Why the list stopped growing.   The time it takes to process a new entry increases approximately with the square of the list length, after checking for duplications, spoofs etc. Starting it was based on the naïve assumption that the rate of appearances would decline as opposing evidence accumulated, but the reverse happened. That’s the difference between science and religion. It was taking over my life, which I did not want to end as a garbage collector. There have since been hundreds more claims of an increasingly ludicrous nature.

Time has proven him absolutely correct.  The list has not stopped growing and has become ‘increasingly ludicrous”.

The new entry for the list of “Things Caused by Global Warming” was featured in an article in the once-respected journal ScienceThe piece is in their News—Social Sciences section with the title “Weather can affect baby names. A couple uncommon ones might be about to blow up”.   The piece is amusing and should be read with your sense-of-humor knob turned full up.

The article includes supporting statements from an “evolutionary anthropologist” [ditto] and, de rigueur,  a physicist! (Who, by the by, “was not involved in the work but has examined parents’ reasoning for baby names.”)

The article states:

“Evolutionary ecologists Raymond Huey of the University of Washington, Seattle, and Donald Miles of Ohio University, Athens, have spent their careers learning how the physical environment, particularly temperature, influences the behavior, physiology, and other aspects of the lives of animals, particularly lizards. They wondered whether the environment might influence a uniquely human behavior: naming a baby.”

Now, you may ask “Who are you to doubt the opinions about human baby names  voiced by Scientists! who have spent their careers studying lizards?”.   I have no excuse, I just have to.

There is a study – a published “Accepted manuscript” peer-reviewed study.  No, really.  It is “Signatures of geography, climate, and foliage on given names of baby girls” in the journal Evolutionary Human Sciences.

The abstract reads:

“Parents often weigh social, familial, and cultural considerations when choosing their baby’s name, but the name they choose could potentially be influenced by their physical or biotic environments. Here we examine whether the popularity of month and season names of girls covary geographically with environmental variables. In the continental USA, April, May, and June (Autumn, Summer) are the most common month (season) names: April predominates in southern states (early springs), whereas June predominates in northern states (later springs). Whether April’s popularity has increased with recent climate warming is ambiguous. Autumn is most popular in northern states, where autumn foliage is notably colourful, and in eastern states having high coverage of deciduous foliage. On a continental scale, Autumn was most popular in English-speaking countries with intense colouration of autumn foliage. These analyses are descriptive but indicate that climate and vegetation sometimes influence parental choice of their baby’s name.”

Where, you ask, is the Climate Change claim?  It’s in the Science article about the study.  Elizabeth Pennisi, writing for Science quotes “Ruth Mace, an evolutionary anthropologist at University College London (UCL) who was not involved in the work” (and not even at the same institution as either of the authors), who says:

“[It’s] interesting to speculate our great-grandchildren may have names like January and February as global warming races along” and warm weather comes earlier in the year.”

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Author’s Comment:

That’s science for you (and Science the journal).

The author at Science, Pennisi, must have a rather short “go to” list of scientists to call on for quotes – all those used in her article on baby names are at University College London (UCL).  Neither of the study’s authors are at that institution or even in the same country as UCL.

On the upside, Pennisi passes on a Hat Tip (from “the physicist”Paolo Barucca) to Simon & Garfunkel who released their very popular song April Come She Will in 1966, crediting the song as the influence behind the fact that “April began to rise in popularity, and from the 1960s until 2000, April was the predominant month name.”

And there you have it.

Thanks for reading.

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