Global warming – definition and meaning

Global warming refers to the increase in the temperatures of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere. Most scientists believe that the temperature increases are due to the greenhouse effect. Machines that we make and other human activities emit pollution which subsequently exacerbates the greenhouse effect.

In the past 140 years, the average temperature of Earth’s lower atmosphere has risen by 0.6°C. However, by the year 2070, scientists predict that the temperature will have risen by 1.5°C to 2°C. ‘°C‘ stands for degrees Celsius or degrees Centigrade.

If you look at historical temperature charts over the past thousand years, they all look like hockey sticks. There is a long period of relative stability, then in 1900, temperatures start rising.

Scientists from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory warned that global warming will accelerate. After carrying out a study, they said that we will all have to learn to adapt.

Global warming could dramatically change climate zone patterns. This means that rainfall, snow, winds, and other weather phenomena could significantly change different parts of the world.

For example, rising temperatures could melt the polar ice caps and subsequently push up sea levels across the planet. Low-lying towns and cities might experience serious flooding in decades to come. In fact, there may be permanent flooding in some major cities and other low-lying areas where humans live.

Crop failures may devastate huge areas in the Americas and Asia due to hotter and drier conditions.

According to Collins Dictionary:

“Global warming is the gradual rise in the earth’s temperature caused by high levels of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere.”

Global warming - definition and illustration with list of features
If we want to prevent dramatic rises in sea levels and extreme weather events, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Global warming – a real threat

Over the past two decades, a growing percentage of the scientific community believes that the global warming threat is real. It is not a conspiracy by the deep state or a fictitious theme that scientists promote to gain funding for research.

In other words, while many people and scientists were skeptical a couple of decades ago, virtually everybody today is convinced that global warming is a genuine and serious problem.

In fact, even giant oil and gas companies, such as BP, Shell, and Exxon are no longer global warming skeptics.

Global warming vs. climate change

People today commonly use the two terms ‘global warming‘ and ‘climate change‘ interchangeably. However, their meanings are not the same.

Similarly, people often confuse the terms ‘climate‘ and ‘weather,’ even though they refer to events with different scales of time and geographical areas.

Climate‘ refers to long-term regional temperatures, rainfall, and humidity patterns over decades, years, and seasons.

Weather,’ on the other hand, refers to atmospheric conditions that occur over short periods, such as days, hours, or even minutes. The term ‘weather’ also refers to local conditions.

Climate change

The term ‘climate change‘ refers to a wide range of phenomena on a global scale. The phenomena are mainly the result of burning natural gas, gasoline, diesel, and coal, i.e., fossil fuels.

The burning of fossil fuels adds greenhouse gases, i.e., heat-trapping gases, to our atmosphere. The major greenhouse gases are methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2), and ozone (O3).

Climate change also includes the subsequent changes that occur on Earth’s surface, such as rising sea levels. It includes the loss of ice mass in the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, and mountain glaciers globally.

We also include extreme weather events and changes in flower/plant blooming under the umbrella term ‘climate change.’

If the temperature of the planet declines, that is a climate change matter, but not a global warming one. Global warming only involves a rise in temperature.

Global warming

According to NASA:

“Global warming refers to the upward temperature trend across the entire Earth since the early 20th century, and most notably since the late 1970s, due to the increase in fossil fuel emissions since the industrial revolution.”

“Worldwide since 1880, the average surface temperature has gone up by about 0.8 °C (1.4 °F), relative to the mid-20th-century baseline (of 1951-1980).”

When policymakers make decisions regarding the environment, they often factor in a gas’ Global Warming Potential. It is a measure of how much heat one ton of an atmospheric gas absorbs compared to carbon dioxide.

An international study found that global warming models have significantly underestimated future temperature rises. Global temperature rises will probably be twice as high as recent predictions.

Video – Global Warming

This National Geographic video explains that global warming might do considerably more than just melt polar ice. It could displace hundreds of millions of people and change our maps. It might also push vast areas of land permanently under water.