The terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ are always being used interchangeably. You can use either terms to describe what’s happening to our Earth, the fact still stands that this is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. Regardless of whether you say that climate change is all the side effects of global warming, or that global warming is one symptom of human-caused climate change, you’re essentially talking about the same basic phenomenon: the buildup of excess heat energy in the Earth system. So why do we have two ways of describing what is basically the same thing? Let’s start with climate change.


Climate Change

What is climate change? Climate change can mean human-caused changes or natural ones, such as ice ages. Climate change includes warming and the “side effects” of warming—like melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, or more frequent drought. To put things into perspective, global warming is one symptom of the much larger problem of human-caused climate change.


If climate change and global warming are referring to two different things, why do we use them interchangeably? Well, when we talk about climate change we’re usually referring to global warming because our planet is currently experiencing climate change in the form of rising temperatures.


Temperature change itself isn’t the only severe effect of climate change. Changes to precipitation patterns and sea levels are likely to have much greater human impact than the higher temperatures alone. For this reason, scientific research on climate change encompasses far more than surface temperature change. So “global climate change” is the more all-inclusive and scientifically accurate term. 


Global Warming

Let’s talk about what global warming really is. Global warming refers to the Earth’s rising surface temperature. It describes an increase in Earth’s average temperature over time. These temperatures may not rise by the same amount everywhere, and it also does not mean that everywhere in the world will get warmer, some locations may not be affected. To measure the increment of global warming, we have to consider the Earth as a whole and determine its average temperature. 


The increase in temperature could be due to natural or unnatural forces such as an increase in greenhouse gases, particularly from the burning of fossil fuels. When scientists or opinion leaders talk about the effects of global warming, they usually mean warming caused by human activities, as today’s global warming is overwhelmingly due to the increase in heat-trapping gases that humans are adding to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.


To conclude, ‘global warming’ applies to the long-term trend of rising average global temperatures, and ‘climate change’ is a broader term that reflects the fact that carbon pollution does more than just warm our planet.


What Are We Doing About This?

There is a growing concern in seeking sustainable alternative energy sources. Passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, most of the solar energy is in the form of visible light and ultraviolet light. Today, energy consumption is growing at a substantial rate. The use of the sun for energy production is a reality that is increasingly present in our lives.


To understand the ways in which solar power helps prevent climate change, we must understand a little more about the benefits of solar energy and its importance. The simplest definition of solar energy is; the name given to any light energy taken from the sun, and succeeding conversion of energy obtained in some form.


Most of our energy comes from burning fossil fuels, a process that emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas (GHG). GHGs trap and add extra heat to the global system in ways that are changing the climate. This is harmful for the Earth, as once CO2 reaches the atmosphere, it stays there for thousands of years. The decisions people make today will have consequences well into the future.


Solar energy has long been thought as better for the environment compared to fossil fuels. Solar panels do not release any emissions as they generate electricity. Researchers found that if people switched from conventional fossil fuel-burning power plants to solar cells, air pollution would be cut by roughly 90 percent. 


Where your household’s energy comes from makes a big difference in how environmentally impactful a switch to solar can be. Sourcing solar energy is relatively simple. With enough space, solar panels can be installed just about anywhere – on a parcel of land, carports, rooftops, the wings of a plane, cars and with advances in technology, they will even replace window panes. Where there is sunlight and space, solar energy is accessible.


Source of Feature Image by The Daily Star