What is the Difference Between Global Warming and Climate Change?

Georgina Clarke 10 July 2023

Although commonly grouped together and often confused with one another, Global Warming and Climate Change are actually two different things.

Global Warming refers to the long-term trend of rising average global temperatures as a result of human emissions of greenhouse gasses, whilst Climate Change is a broader term that refers to large-scale, long-term shifts in the earth’s weather patterns and average temperatures.

Historically, scientists have always accepted that human activities could cause climate change; the direction of change, however, was unclear. Industrial emissions of aerosols (tiny airborne particles) might cause cooling, while greenhouse gas emissions would cause warming. These facts led scientists to debate which out of the two would dominate.

The first decisive National Academy of Science study of the impact of carbon dioxide on the climate was published in 1979, rejected the “inadvertent climate modification” and stated that “if carbon dioxide continues to increase, [we find] no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible.”

“Global warming” became the most popular term in June 1988, when NASA scientist James E. Hansen testified to Congress about climate, specifically referring to global warming. His testimony was widely reported in popular and business media, which resulted in the increased popularity of the term “global warming.“

The Causes

As we briefly mentioned, there are many human causes of climate change and global warming. Big corporations play a catastrophic impact on this, due to the volume in which they produce CO2 emissions by producing unsustainable products and shipping them internationally.

According to the United Nations, generating power (burning fossil fuels), manufacturing goods and cutting down forests are the top three causes of climate change and global warming. Cutting down forests creates emissions, as when trees are cut down, they release the carbon they have been storing; destroying them also limits nature’s ability to keep emissions out of the atmosphere. The highest cause of climate change and global warming by the public is, probably unsurprisingly, transport usage.

How Does Global Warming Contribute to Climate Change?

The main cause of climate change is the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gas emissions blanket the earth, trapping in the sun’s heat onto the Earth’s surface which leads to global warming and then, inevitably, climate change.

The world is now warming at a much faster rate than at any point in recorded history, with the warmer temperatures and changing weather patterns affecting the current state of nature.

What are the Risks of Climate Change & Global Warming?

Climate change and global warming are very serious threats that impact many different aspects of our lives; from natural changes, social and business threats and territorial impacts.

Whilst the effects are different across the world, they can be catastrophic – ranging from extreme heat waves and droughts to intense rainfall and storms, changes in personal health, energy deficiencies and infrastructure changes, to the loss of the ice caps in The Arctic Regions.

How Does it Affect Us?

As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature, resulting in hotter temperatures. Every decade since the 1980s has become warmer than the previous one, with higher temperatures causing all sorts of problems. There’s increases in heat-related illnesses, wildfires are igniting more easily and spread more rapidly and temperatures in The Arctic have warmed at least twice as fast as the global average.

Destructive storms and droughts have become more intense and common in many regions. As temperatures rise, more moisture evaporates, which creates extreme rainfall and flooding. Not only this, but cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons feed on warm waters at the ocean's surface, which are also becoming more common.

Oceans are rising and warming, which melts the ice glaciers and increases sea levels, leading to threatening coastal and island communities. The ocean also absorbs carbon dioxide, which increases its acidity, consequently endangering marine life and coral reefs.

Above are just a few of the affects global warming and climate change has on our planet; visit here to learn more.

What Can We Do to Help?

Everyone can help slow down the rate climate change impacts global warming. From the way that we travel, the electricity we use and the food we consume, all of this makes a difference to our planet.

The next big question is ‘what is sustainability?’ Sustainability essentially means maintaining the current state of natural resources, so by buying sustainable items it helps save the planet!

Renewable energy sources have been around for many years and are now more important than ever to consider using. Solar, wind and hydro power are the most common sources of renewable energy, with solar panels being able to help you save energy at home.

The big focus in current times is switching to electric transport. The proportion of new cars sold in May 2023 that were either fully electric or plug-in hybrid was 23.1% and big cities are ensuring that they utilise renewable energy in their public transport. TFL especially have pinned a focus on upgrading their double-decker busses to using electric, hybrid and hydrogen to power their fleets “The Mayor is spending more than £300 million to transform London’s bus fleet by retrofitting thousands of buses and committing to phase out pure diesel double-deck busses since 2018.”

As a society, it’s imperative that we reconsider our efforts and do all that we can to reduce global warming and climate change. Large UK cities are already making many changes, it’s everyone’s responsibility after all!

Education on these Issues Can Lead to Positive Outcomes

Topics as large and important as sustainability, global warming and climate change can be very overwhelming to understand and act upon.

Educating yourself and others on this topic is the best way to ensure the message is correctly spread and received. As there is a lot of incorrect information out there, it can be very confusing to know what is truth and fiction, which is why bringing in a professional keynote speaker on sustainability, global warming and climate change is the most efficient and effective way to ensure that you don’t read misinformation.

By bringing in an external sustainability keynote speaker to talk with your team about these issues, it can greatly benefit your business in many ways. Some of these perks include the information being delivered by a credible source (no misinformation!), learning new processes that can be easily changed to make your business greener and saving your workforce and corporation time and money, which is always a bonus!

Environmental Speakers

As mentioned above, education is the key to lessening our impact on the environment.

That’s why bringing in an external sustainability, climate change and global warming expert to speak to your team can make the topics easily digestible, giving your workforce tangible actions to help them save the planet!

Award-winning campaigner, Natalie Fee, is the founder of non-profit organisation City to Sea; an environmental organisation that campaigns against plastic pollution. Her education on this topic has been fundamental paving the way for saving the planet, as she has made incredible changes.

Top authority on global climate change, Christiana Figueres was the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2010-2016. She played a key role in solidifying the Paris Agreement in December 2015 and has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy.

A regular on our television screens and UK National Treasure, Bear Grylls, is an adventurer, survival expert author and environmentalist. Passionate about the outdoors and with a lifetime of first-hand experience in the most dangerous climates, Bear shares his stories and knowledge with audiences.

Leading sustainability author and environmental advisor, Tony Juniper has worked for change towards a more sustainable society at local, national and international levels for more than 25 years. Chair of Nature England, President of the Wildlife Trusts and Senior Associate with the University of Cambridge Program for Sustainability Leadership, Tony speaks and writes on all aspects of sustainability.

Ready to motivate your staff to save the planet by slowing down global warming and climate change? See more of our fantastic sustainability speakers or call our team on 02076077070 to book a speaker for your next event.

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