Global warming and climate change are environmental terms that are often used interchangeably or misrepresented. The similarity or difference between the two terms has been a contentious issue. According to Fallows (2009), a distinct difference between global warming and climate change does exist, and the context in which the two they are used is often ignored and misunderstood. Some contemporary environmental scientists however argue that there might be no difference in the use of the two terms. The paper provides a comparison and contrast regarding in the use of terms global warming and climate change.
According to Schuldt (2011), global warming is the increased warming of the Earth as a result of the accelerated of releasing greenhouse gases more specifically from the burning of fossil fuels. The increased warming of the Earth is evidently exhibited by the increased levels of the oceans and change in atmospheric temperatures due to buildup of greenhouse gases. The effects of global warming is evident in several parts of the world which include increased in the reduction of habitats for animals, retreating ice caps, rising of global temperatures, dry lakes, rise of sea-level, shifts in weather among others. Revkin (2014) argues that global warming is as a result of human activities that cause climate change.
Climate change can be an artificial or a natural change in the temperatures of the Earth over a period of time. The varying of the energy budget of the Earth can cause both an increase and decrease in the temperatures of the Earth. According to Climate Central (2009), the climate of the Earth has changed and has been changing before. However, in the past decades, the change has been different. Scientists argue that the recent increase in the global temperatures is attributed to the increased burning of fossil fuels leading to climatic changes in the modern society.
Global warming and climate change are often used interchangeably. According to the study carried out by Schuldt and Sara Konrath of the University of Michigan involving a wording experiment and a sample of 2267 adults, 74 percent referred the increasing temperatures of the Earth as climate change while about 68 percent referred the increase in temperatures as global warming. Schuldt and Konrath argued that global warming is more concerned on the increase of temperatures while climate change focusses more on general changes. From a political perspective, Schuldt and Konrath found out that liberals and conservatives used global warming and climate change differently. They discovered global warming is the most common term among Conservatives to describe the phenomenon while climate change is commonly used among the liberals (Schuldt, 2011).
Some scientist argues that global warming is a readily understood term, and climate change encompasses global warming. Global warming may be interpreted in a narrow concept mentioning the warmer temperatures on the surface of the Earth. In contrast, environmental scientists view that increased temperatures in the atmosphere cause instability of the Earth’s atmosphere such as abnormal cooling and warming and abnormal precipitation under normal weather conditions (Revkin, 2014). The scientific use of climate change captures the changing patterns of the Earth temperatures as its consequences. On the other hand, climate change may express change in natural weather patterns that are not related to global warming that is induced by human activities. Furthermore, many scientists prefer using the term, climate change over global warming because climate change is broader term covering several aspects such as warming of the Earth, increase if severe storms, damaging winds, and droughts (Villar, 2011).
Other scholars argue that, global warming that many strongly believe that it is caused by human activities is a politically induced term to cause political divide while climate change is less politically polarizing. Based on the studies carried out by Schuldt and Konrath, it was discovered that global warming exhibits a greater political polarization that climate change (Schuldt, 2011). In particular, the studies found out that there is a greater probability of republicans being more skeptical on global warming that about climate change. Democrats, on the other hand, express far less skeptical views of both terms than Republicans. However, the use of the two terms keep on evolving when interpreted by the public.
The main point is how the various environmental sectors in the public domain respond to the two terms. Researchers have discovered that the use of the terms is sometimes politically oriented. Furthermore, studies have indicated that Republicans are to a large extent more probable to express skeptical opinions toward global warming than toward climate change. In the 2013 Environmental data, it was shown that an uncertain differences in arguments based in the two terms arise across the ideological and partisan spectrums. Republicans and Democrats exhibited substantial differences in response to global warming and climate change (Revkin, 2014).
In the media, global warming and climate change are commonly used interchangeably. According to Kopicki (2014), the two words are different and are used to refer to different aspects taking place on the Earth. According to Kopicki (2014), global warming is induced by human activities causing climate change. People who believe that global warming is a hoax us same mincing terms to cause detraction from the issues. Even though a standard definition for the two terms has not been agreed, climate change is evident and is taking place. On the other hand, global warming is a theory.
In a nutshell, the paper has discussed the contemporary issues concerning global warming and climate change. Research has indicated that politically, the two terms are used differently depending on the political views and ideologies. Even though environmental researchers argue that the global warming and climate change are two different terms, the public has not understood the required or the correct context in which to use each of them.
- Climate Central. (7 November 2009). What is the difference between global warming and climate change? Retrieved October 24, 2014 from http://www.climatecentral.org
- Fallows, J. (23 July 2009). Compare and contrast reading on climate change. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2009/07/compare-and-contrast-reading-on-climate-change/21955/
- Kopicki, A. (29 May 2014). Americans more worried about ‘warming’ than ‘the climate change’. The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/30/upshot/climate-change-or-global-warming-tough-choice-for-pollsters.html?abt=0002&abg=0
- Revkin, A. (27 May 2014). Americans’ Varied views of global ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’. The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com
- Schuldt, J., et al. (2011). Global warming” or “climate change”? Whether the planet is warming depends on question wording. Vol. 75, No. 1, pp. 115’124
- Villar, A., & Krosnick, J. A. (2011). Global warming vs. climate change, taxes vs. prices: Does word choice matter? Climatic Change, 105(1/2), 1-12. doi:10.1007/s10584-010-988