Global Warming or Climate Change?

Global Warming or Climate Change?

Photo Credit: Eye of Hurricane

Summer Storm

In many cases, the terms global warming and climate change are used interchangeably.

It happens on websites, blogs, and books. And on this site the terms global warming and climate change are used very interchangeably as well. But what is the actual difference between these terms? In moving forward there is a difference that you should at be aware of.

In the previous section, titled ‘What is global warming?‘, we defined global warming as the gradually increasing trend in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the earth’s combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.13 degrees Fahrenheit ( 0.08 degrees Celsius) per decade since 1880. In addition, the average rate of increase after 1981 has more than doubled to 0.32°F (0.18°C ) per decade.

In addition to this increase in temperature, many scientists believe that global temperatures will continue to rise in the future, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities. In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that temperatures will continue to increase at least 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

Cause and Effect.

These small changes in temperature correspond to large impacts on our environment. Climate change is defined as the long-term changes in the weather patterns that come as a result of temperature change. Global warming is the cause, climate change is the effect.

The end result of these changes in climate is a multitude of different symptoms and effects. They include an impact both on rainfall and weather patterns, ranging from extreme weather events like heat waves, to droughts, to forest fires, to hurricanes, the melting of ice caps and glaciers, and as the ice melts,- the rising of the sea levels. And that’s just to name a few of the impacts. There are many more ripple effects that follow!

Photo Credit: Forest Fire

Mojave Desert

Next up: What is Deforestation?