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Monday, September 25, 2023

Is climate change not the same as global warming?

Sincerely, these two terminologies – global warming and climate change –  top the list of the most interchangeably used word by environmental scientists and journalists and it often leaves “laymen” confused whether the terms represent same or similar concepts. Now that awareness towards environmental issues is surging, it is only good that we all understand what we are dealing with. Lets go!

A view of the atrium in the World Conference Centre Bonn (WCCB) in Germany, venue of the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference (COP23)

Global Warming or Climate Change?

Firstly, what do you think is the difference between these two terms? I wish I could hear your  response before moving on but I’ll pass…

It is forgivable if you are one of those that use these two terms interchangeably. Hey dear, even world renowned environmental scientists and journalists do the same but… they do so with understanding.

Ok, let’s cut to the chase…

Both global warming and climate change are terms first used by climate scientist (you can call them climatologists) to describe a phenomenon of warmth on the surface of the earth. To do justice to this, I have selected some reputable sources to help out… Are you ready?

According to climate reality…

“You can call it global warming or climate change, but it’s the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced”.

Yes! You read it correctly! Its collateral effect is evident on everything humanity is all about…

So what is climate change, global warming and what is the difference between them?

According to climatewatch magazine…

“Global warming refers only to the Earth’s rising surface temperature, while

Climate change includes warming and the “side effects” of warming – like melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, or more frequent drought. In other words, global warming is one symptom of the much larger problem of human-caused climate change”

Climate Reality put it this way…

“Global warming” applies to the long-term trend of rising average global temperatures.

“Climate change” is a broader term that reflects the fact that carbon pollution does more than just warm our planet. Carbon pollution is also changing rain and snow patterns and increasing the risk of intense storms and droughts.

Weather.com was brief about it…

Global warming refers to the rise in global average temperatures of the Earth over time and is considered human-caused.

Climate change includes warming and the impacts of warming.

If you have read carefully to this point, you would by now realise that climate change is somewhat broader than global warming.

In the 4.5 billion existence of the earth, it has always warmed and cooled, the difference this time is the rate at which the earth is warming which speaks volume about the actions of man!

Global warming is a phenomenon that arises as a result of increased earth temperature caused by increase in release of greenhouse gases by human action such as burning of fossil fuel while climate change encompasses every causes of warming, both human-caused and natural. This fairly explains why “climate change” is used more often than “global warming”.

The bottom line

Today’s global warming is an unprecedented type of climate change, and it is driving a cascade of side effects in our climate system. It’s these side effects, such as changes in sea level along heavily populated coastlines and the worldwide retreat of mountain glaciers that millions of people depend on for drinking water and agriculture, that are likely to have a much greater impact on society than temperature change alone.

So, what role do we play in all of this?

We shouldn’t be gullible to think climate change is a hoax, far from it!

Picture a very wealthy man who decided to kill the hen that lays the golden egg… OR a thirsty little boy in a desert who eventually found a a shallow put of water. He gulped enough and polluted the rest. If adequate understanding of our environment is lost on us, abuse will definitely linger. Despite my passion towards promoting awareness of environmental issues, one major challenge I have faced is defining what role I can play in alleviating the problem and helping others define theirs. But not anymore, there are various things we can do to curb climate change as individuals; it only requires that we raise our consciousness of how we treat the environment.

By Ogunjobi Oluwamuyiwa Felix (Teacher and an environmentalist; Port Harcourt, Nigeria)

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