Climate change is a pressing issue that must be addressed with urgency, yet it has not always been addressed under this name. In the past, Global Warming was the preferred terminology, but recently, it has increasingly been replaced with the term “Climate Change” in scientific discourse. But why did this change occur? Understanding the reasons behind the switch from Global Warming to Climate Change is essential to comprehending the full scope of the problem, and why it demands the attention of governments and citizens alike.
At first glance, the two terms may seem interchangeable, yet they paint different pictures when viewed in the context of science and politics. Global Warming specifically speaks to the rise in average global temperatures due to human activities, while Climate Change encompasses the wider set of associated impacts, such as droughts, flooding, and extreme weather. This distinction is significant, as it brings an additional layer to the problem, illustrating how it affects people, local ecosystems and global patterns.
Moreover, the shift from Global Warming to Climate Change also serves a political purpose. While “Global Warming” is rooted in scientific facts, it is also associated with blame and specific actors – such as large and small-scale businesses or governments, which are seen as primarily responsible for the current state of our climate. From the scientists’ perspective, this narrative removes the sort of finger pointing which can slow progress, and instead focuses on creating viable solutions.
The evidence of significant climate change is mounting, and its effects are increasingly visible in the form of fires, floods, longer and more extreme heat waves, and other extreme weather events. For example, extreme storms, like Hurricanes, are becoming more frequent and more severe due to warmer ocean surface water and associated higher sea levels, leading to destructive coastal erosion, flooding, and damage to property.
Addressing Global Warming and thus preventing Climate Change is more than just an environmental issue – it is a moral imperative. It is the responsibility of governments, citizens and businesses alike to work together to protect the environment and reduce the impacts of this phenomenon. From expanding renewable energy sources, to reducing emissions and increasing efficiency measures, to engaging in sustainable agriculture, there are various individual and collective actions that can be taken to achieve meaningful change.
Reducing emissions from vehicles, electricity usage and manufactured goods is an important part of tackling Climate Change, while overall lifestyle changes, such as the adoption of a plant-based diet, make an even bigger difference. Research has shown that just by reducing their meat consumption, an individual has the potential to save up to 8.1 tons of CO2 equivalent per year.
The shift to Climate Change instead of Global Warming is an important step toward creating a better future. Ultimately, as the effects continue to become more and more apparent, it is clear that if left unchecked, the effects of Climate Change will overwhelm our social and economic structures, leading to mass displacement and increasing the gap between rich and poor. As such, we must work together to find collective solutions.