Do you know the difference between global warming and climate change? While these two words are similar, they have distinct definitions. Learn what global warming vs. climate change means. Explore examples of what climate change and global warming look like.
Although people use the phrases global warming and climate change interchangeably, they aren’t the same. But they are related. Before diving into the facts of the two, check out this chart highlighting the difference between global warming and climate change.
What Is It?
gradual increase of the surface temperature of Earth
long-term change of the local, regional and global weather patterns around the world including global warming and its side effects
What Causes It?
CO2 and other greenhouse gases
human factors or natural changes of Earth
rising of the global sea temperature of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1901
changes in plants' blooming times
To understand the term global warming, you just have to look at the individual words. Global means it's happening around the globe, and warming means it's getting hotter. Put them together and global warming is the heating up of the Earth’s surface over time. You probably hear about global warming on the news or see it on your Snapchat story, but why is the surface of the Earth getting hotter? The reason is humans.
Global warming is increasing at a rapid rate because of humans. They are adding CO2 to the atmosphere creating a shield that keeps heat in, called the greenhouse effect. As humans burn fossil fuels, like coal and petroleum, the CO2 and other greenhouse gases create a barrier making the sun's rays stay on Earth. With nowhere to go, the sun rays heat up the Earth.
The world getting hotter is going to cause some problems. Explore these examples of global warming's side effects.
sea levels rising
levels of CO2 increasing in ocean
plants moving their range
Since you understand what global warming is, it’s time to look at climate change. Again, to understand what climate change means, you just need to dissect the phrase. Climate is the average weather a place has, while change is something outside the usual pattern. So, climate change means the usual weather patterns of a place are changing. Since climate change can include global warming, it’s easy to get them confused. But the major difference between global warming and climate change is climate change can be caused by two different factors: humans and nature.
The cause of climate change most commonly talked about in the news is from humans. The burning of fossil fuels and the warming of the Earth causes changes. However, climate change can also be caused by other natural factors like:
Earth’s distance from the sun
natural ocean changes
One of the greatest examples of climate change is global warming and all the issues that it’s causing on Earth. However, other examples of climate change include:
increase in severe storms
increase in heavy rain
loss of biodiversity
low water levels
changes in seasons