Environmentalism 101: Global warming/Climate Change – Is there any difference?

What is the difference between Global Warming and Climate Change? The meanings of the terms have become hidden because of all the political innuendo attached to them. 

The best concise definition I found on the web of ‘global warming’ describes it to be a noun, with the meaning “An increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, especially a sustained increase sufficient to cause climatic change.” (http://www.answers.com)


First note that the two words “global warming” used together are considered a noun.  This is important because from this info we understand that “global warming” is some ‘thing’.  A ‘something’ that is probably a phenomenon indicating an increased temperature of the earth’s air.  Not of our hometown or region or country but the “globe” or the sphere that is our planet earth.

Next notice the phrase “An increase in the average temperature” and think about what that might mean in general.  When your local weather forecaster says the ‘average temperature of this month’s daily winter temperatures recorded at noon,” we can understand that every daily temperature of the month which was recorded at twelve o’clock noon

(1)  Has been added together and the (2) sum is divided by the number of days in the month.

Let's take the month of December, having 31 days, 31 recorded temperatures have been added together, and their sum divided by 31 to come up with one number: the average.

The average temperature is not the mean average temperature.  The mean average temperature refers to the temperature taken at noon on December 16th.  The mean average temperature is important but it is not the data point described in the global warming definition.  The two numbers (average temp and mean average temp) may vary significantly so the difference between the two can be quite important when trying to understand atmospheric temperatures.

When we come to “climatic change” in the definition it is preceded by the word “cause” so we can expect that if there is a cause there is an effect.  Viola!

The phenomena termed global warming is the average of temperatures recorded around the earth (in the atmosphere above both land and sea) which under the right circumstances will cause a shift in climate (climate change).

Neither global warming nor climate change is easy to understand.  But don’t despair!  Step by step we will move on to greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide, chaos theory, ice cores and other important ingredients of the many faceted phenomena of Global Warming. And we'll take a peek at the variety of environmental organizations working for positive change.

For example, 350.org.

The two gorgeous photographs are from the organization 350,org.  http://www.350.org

A portion of their mission statement reads "350.org is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis--the solutions that justice demands. . . . Our focus is on the number 350--as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. But 350 is more than a number--it's a symbol of where we need to head as a planet."

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