So, as a person who is known to ‘believe’ in global warming I have been taking some stick recently from the “so how can we be suffering global warming – have you seen the weather!” crowd.
As I have said previously in this blog, the planet is warming, but that does not necessarily manifest itself in the form of warming to our climate! More commonly it will show up in changes to our climate patterns – such as the extremely cold weather we are seeing currently.
So which phrase should we use – or is it both that are relevant?
Any process that causes adjustments to a climate system – from a volcanic eruption to a cyclical change in solar activity – could be described as creating “climate change”.
Today, however, the phrase is most often used as shorthand for anthropogenic climate change – in other words, climate change caused by humans. The principal way in which humans are understood to be affecting the climate is through the release of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the air.
Climate change is used interchangeably with another phrase – “global warming” – reflecting the strong warming trend that scientists have observed over the past century or so. Strictly speaking, however, climate change is a more accurate phrase than global warming, not least because rising temperatures can cause a host of other climatic impacts, such as changes in rainfall patterns.
Nice and clear then!
The bottom line though in my eyes is that we are seeing changes to our weather patterns. The suggestion at the moment is that the winters may well become colder and longer for us over the next decade, time to take this more seriously?