The bad news? We’re killing the planet. The good news? We can save it if we take action now.
Despite humankind being the villains in this story, they can also be the heroes, because climate change and global warming are things we can no longer ignore.
The more we educate ourselves on these topics, the better chance we have of reducing the catastrophic damage to the earth. But what’s the difference between climate change and global warming, and what exactly do they mean?
Well, you’re about to find out. We’re here to break it down and help you to discover a greener and brighter future for us all.
What Does Climate Change Mean?
Big questions need big answers, and this question is no exception. Let’s start with the meaning of climate. Climate refers to the weather over a long period of time in a particular area of the world. That means climate change signifies that those weather conditions are altering or have already altered.
Scientists have recently revealed that we are living through the Anthropocene, a new geological time period where human actions are having the primary influence over the climate and our environment.
How Are Humans Impacting Climate Change?
The climate is changing because of our activities and the way in which we live. Think about how you live, how you use transport, how you heat up your home. We use fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas to live, to make things and to move across the world.
These fossil fuels release greenhouse gases, like CO2, when they are burned for us to use, and the gases trap the heat from the sun, heating the planet. Because of this, we are increasing the temperature of the planet. Forests can usually absorb these greenhouse gases from the air, but with acres of trees being cut down every minute, the lungs of our planet are not there to absorb the carbon dioxide, thus trapping the heat from the sun.
Since the 19th Century, the amount of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere has climbed by a staggering 50% to become 1.2C warmer than it should be. While that might not sound a lot for an average sunny day, this rise in temperature causes devastating impacts, because the extreme changes in weather can affect humans and wildlife, from disastrous wildfires to destructive flooding. This might mean our homes could become uninhabitable, unable to grow food and find shelter, as we suffer at the hands of a temperature increase.
Breeding cattle on a mass scale, alongside deforestation, also plays an instrumental part in climate change. Livestock that produce methane, like cows, contribute to 14% of climate emission caused by humans. This greenhouse gas is even more intense than carbon dioxide, becoming a lethal contribution to the climate crisis.
If we don’t slow down the rise in temperature, then the planet and humankind will experience severe consequences.
What Does Global Warming Mean?
While climate change refers to the change in the climate, observing the long-term change of the weather patterns, global warming pays attention to the rising temperature of the Earth’s surface.
The meaning of global refers to the world – the globe – while warming means heat is being produced. When these words are put together, it helps us understand that the world is getting hotter. The causes of climate change focus on human activity and Earth’s natural changes, but global warming is caused by the greenhouse gases produced from those climate changes, so it’s easy to understand why global warming and climate change can sometimes be thought of as the same thing. In short, global warming is a result of climate change.
What Does This Mean for Us?
As global warming increases, our environment undergoes drastic and serious repercussions. From glaciers melting to sea levels rising, farmland turning to desert, to animal extinction and the spreading of diseases, the outcome of global warming is not to be taken lightly.
Here in the UK, we have already experienced the result of global warming and climate change such as intense heatwaves during the summer months, which in turn can lead to wildfires and death for people who suffer with heart and lung conditions. Winter has introduced terrible flooding which damages livelihoods and homes, while also causing death in the worst circumstances.
As the sea levels rise and the storms become more intense, our coastlines begin to erode, forcing families to be relocated from their homes, and wildlife to disappear too. With wildlife habitats being destroyed, we are beginning to see the effects that has on species, upsetting the food chain and our ecosystems.
What Can We Do?
There are so many lifestyle choices we can make to protect our planet and prevent further damage. This can be changing how we use transport, the type of food we eat and how much food we throw away, using less energy (therefore reducing fossil fuels) in your home, and of course, reducing, reusing, repairing, and recycling are all small steps we can implement to make a big change.