The phrase in question comes from the Japanese global warming article.


I think I understand the gist of 数%程度でしかなく. My reading is, '[accounts for] just a few percent [of the change]'. However, I've never encountered 数 used as a prefix like this before to represent a small change. Can someone clarify the meaning of this phrase? Thanks.

  • 数パーセント is less than 10 %. A few, several, small percent and so on. More than or equal to 10%, it is 数10パーセント。 – user25382 Oct 25 '17 at 10:18
  • @kimiTanaka, if you say 数10パーセント, wouldn't it mean "a few tens of percent", meaning at least 20 %, since otherwise it's not in plural? If it's close to 10, wouldn't it be more natural to simply say 10パーセント程度? – a20 Oct 25 '17 at 10:40
  • @bjorn Ah, sorry. The expression "less than 10 %" is not good. I should have written 数パーセント is around 5%. So, it probably is a few or several percents. Yes, if it's close to 10%, I think10%程度 is more appropriate. According to ejje.weblio.jp/content/%E6%95%B0%E5%8D%81%E5%88%86 数十パーセント is 10~30%. Thanks for correcting. – user25382 Oct 25 '17 at 11:01

Your interpretation is correct, used as a prefix 数{すう}パーセント 数{すう}ケルビン, etc the pronunciation is すう and not かず and it means "a few", so in my examples "a few percent" or "a few Kelvin".

The 程度{ていど} afterwards means "order of", so "on the order of a few percent"

The full translation is thus:

Meanwhile, the contribution of the main natural causes such as Solar radiation, is only on the order of a few percent of the artificial main causes. Thus the increase in temperature that we are seeing now can not be explained by natural causes alone.

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