Is global warming the same as climate change?
Global warming has been one of the most popular phrases in the world since 1990s. Also, we have heard the phrase “Climate Change” for more than 30 years. Then, we also use both phrases interchangeably, but we have to think of a question: Is the concept of global warming the same as that of climate change? In this article, we can see the definition of each phrase from United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Britannica, respectively.
Definition in USGS
According to USGS’s Homepage, the difference between climate change and global warming is explained as follows.
Although people tend to use these terms interchangeably, global warming is just one aspect of climate change. “Global warming” refers to the rise in global temperatures due mainly to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. “Climate change” refers to the increasing changes in the measures of climate over a long period of time – including precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns.
Definition in NASA
According to NASA’s Homepage, the difference between climate change and global warming is explained in the following way.
“Global warming” refers to the long-term warming of the planet. Global temperature shows a well-documented rise since the early 20th century and most notably since the late 1970s. Worldwide, since 1880 the average surface temperature has risen about 1 °C (about 2 °F), relative to the mid-20th-century baseline (of 1951-1980). This is on top of about an additional 0.15 °C of warming from between 1750 and 1880.
“Climate change” encompasses global warming, but refers to the broader range of changes that are happening to our planet. These include rising sea levels; shrinking mountain glaciers; accelerating ice melt in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic; and shifts in flower/plant blooming times. These are all consequences of the warming, which is caused mainly by people burning fossil fuels and putting out heat-trapping gases into the air. The terms “global warming” and “climate change” are sometimes used interchangeably, but strictly they refer to slightly different things.
Definition in Britannica
According to Britannica’s Homepage, the difference between climate change and global warming is explained as follows.
The phrase global warming is used by scientists to mean a long-term increase in Earth’s average air temperature. It can refer specifically to such warming that is due to the influence of rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Climate change is a bit different. Before we look into what climate change is, it may be helpful to think a bit about climate with respect to weather. Weather, which is often confused with climate, is the set of conditions in the atmosphere in one location for a limited period of time, such as throughout the day, at night, or at any particular point during the day. Climate, on the other hand, is the average condition of the atmosphere in a given location over a long period of time, such as 30 years or more. Thus, climate change is a longer-term change in the average condition of the atmosphere.
As the world continues to come to grips with how human activities influence Earth’s climate, the tangible effects of climate change that is caused by global warming—such as melting glaciers and ice caps, rising sea levels, and changes in seasonal temperature and rainfall patterns—are becoming the focus. With such disruptions becoming more and more apparent, many scientists are discussing them increasingly in terms of real long-term climatic changes rather than simply remarking about Earth’s average temperature. Consequently, climate change can also refer to the cause-and-effect relationship between global warming and climate change. That is, it can refer to a change in the average condition of the atmosphere brought on by global warming.
Human activities may lead to global warming and global warming leads to climate change
As we can see the definition of both global warming and climate change in three different organizations, these two concepts are totally different. In the definition of Britannica, global warming and climate change is the cause-and-effect relationship. Also, our activities may lead to global warming, so we assume that human activities may lead to global warming and global warming leads to climate change.