Tags: global warming | vs | climate change

Global Warming vs. Climate Change: Why Choose New Terminology?

By    |   Monday, 17 November 2014 08:09 PM

Scientists say there is good reason to choose your terms wisely when considering global warming vs. climate change.

The two terminologies have different meanings and can cause misunderstandings.

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The term global warming first entered the popular lexicon in the late 1980s. That’s when NASA scientist James Hansen testified before Congress that the effects of greenhouse gases were causing a warming of the temperature near the earth’s atmosphere. It was widely reported at the time and became a term many people pointed to when making policy pitches and advocating for change.

The scientific community had used this word since the mid-1970s. That’s when two pieces of research, first a paper by Wallace Broecker of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, and then a follow-up study that became known as the Charney Report. The Charney Report investigated Broecker’s claims that CO2 buildup caused by human activity on the planet was resulting in global warming.

The problem when considering whether to use the phrase global warming or climate change is that the warming is only one part of climate change. While evidence for warming has become widely talked about, it is also more closely open to skepticism, particularly when the weather also exhibits periods of cooling.

NASA scientists say that other climate changes, such as precipitation changes and sea levels are more likely to be a problem for humans living on the planet than global warming.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group formed by the UN to compile and process current scientific research on the climate, has recently released a new report on climate change.

On the issue of global warming vs. climate change, the IPCC says “human influence on the climate system is clear.” Global warming has been unprecedented in the last 60 years. However the group is also quick to move past the conflict over cause to point to the need for action to prepare for change. In the 2014 report, the IPCC says, “Impacts are due to observed climate change, irrespective of its cause, indicating the sensitivity of natural and human systems to changing climate.”

While global warming is expected to rise. The climate change expected includes heat waves, extreme precipitation events, and rises in sea levels.

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Scientists say there is good reason to choose your terms wisely when considering global warming vs. climate change.
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Monday, 17 November 2014 08:09 PM
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