Not sure if are climate change and global warming the same thing? Although the terms are equivalent in everyday life, “climate change” refers to change in the state of the climate that can be identified (change in rainfall pattern, for example). “Global warming” refers to the gradual increase in global temperature.
This source of this definition is the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In this article, you can learn the major difference between those terms.
Is climate change caused by global warming?
Actually, yes. Climate change is a result of global warming. The Earth has always had temperature changes; you may have even learned about the ice ages. However, this natural temperature oscillation was gradual, not at all like what we are experiencing now.
Global warming took only 200 years to have devastating effects on life on planet Earth. To you, 200 years may seem like a lot, but in geological time, this is an insignificant period.
In the table below, with information taken from the Climate.Gov website you can see the temperature changes from the year 1800 to the present decades.
|Year (in decades)
Why do we look at the data from the year 1800?
This was the time of the creation of steam engines, which made the first Industrial Revolution possible. Prior to this period, all consumer goods were produced in a small-scale, handcrafted manner.
In an attempt to increase the productivity of this work, it was discovered in England the possibility of using the burning of coal to generate steam with enough pressure to allow a machine to run autonomously.
From burning this coal we began to produce a dangerous waste product in large quantities: CO2 (carbon dioxide). Of course, CO2 existed in the earth’s atmosphere before. Even our breathing produces CO2.
The problem is that, in line with the deforestation of mass urbanization, the overproduction of CO2 caused the temperature to rise, as this is a greenhouse gas.
What is difference between global warming and climate change?
The difference between climate change and global warming is the same as the relationship of the flu virus and fever. It is a cause and effect relationship.
As the global average temperature is rising rapidly, the environment is reacting with symptoms such as droughts, fires, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels.
The catastrophic effects of climate change that we observe in many countries around the world are only a consequence of the fact that we have emitted a massive amount of greenhouse gases, such as CO2.
CO2 has the potential to trap heat, just like methane, and since there is no total escape of heat from our atmosphere into space, thanks to the ozone layer, this heat accumulates and increases the earth’s temperature.
Global climate change summary
The more the temperature rises, the more our environment reacts to this change. Imagine for example that you unplug your refrigerator and open the door. You are inducing a temperature rise..
In this analogy, the ice that has formed in your freezer begins to melt (just as the polar ice caps are melting). All that melted ice turns into water, obviously. This water needs to go somewhere.
In the case of your refrigerator, this water can drain to the bottom of the unit. In the case of Arctic glaciers, all this water goes directly into the ocean, causing the sea level to rise.
Is climate change causing global warming?
Yes and no. Climate change is not the original cause of global warming. In fact, global warming is the original cause of the effects of climate change. But like anyone who has seen the movie The Lion King, we know that life is a never-ending cycle.
Since everything is connected, climate change is also causing global warming.
The increase in the average temperature of the planet Earth causes various effects, and these effects feed global warming itself.
Examples of the relationship between global warming and climate change
Glaciers were a great protective barrier against the dangerous irradiation of the Sun. The thousands of kilometers of ice surface in the Arctic created a white shield, which reflected the sun’s light and heat back into space.
Without this layer of ice, the sun’s rays arrive more intensely and find no difficulty in pouring their heat into our atmosphere.
With more heat received from the sun, the higher the average temperature of the Earth.
This is also true of forest fires, as in the case of the great West Coast wildfire.
Imagine that on a sunny day you stand on a dry leaf. At some point, that leaf will start to catch fire. This process reflects, on a smaller scale, what has caused these fires.
Extensive deforestation has greatly reduced the amount of forest in the world. As we know, trees breathe through photosynthesis: a process in which plants take in CO2 and return oxygen to the atmosphere.
This excess oxygen rises into the sky to form rain. Since there are no trees, this process does not happen and there is a change in the rainfall pattern. This makes the weather much drier and, thanks to the high temperatures, leaves and sticks can spontaneously catch fire in the intense summer heat.
These fires further decrease the amount of trees capturing CO2 from the atmosphere, causing the temperature to rise at a higher rate. In this case climate change also helps to make the global warming challenge worse.
Are climate change and global warming the same?
No, they are not the same. The first one is the effect and the other one is the cause.
However, one feeds the other in a vicious cycle that can destroy humanity and have dangerous effects nowadays already.
We need to fight climate change and fight for climate justice now. The best way to do it is to find, as soon as possible, the balance between the CO2 emissions and how much carbon we can trap of our atmosphere.
A carbon neutral society is our best hope to avoid the worst climate change effects.