We might have been throwing words around trying to understand the damage we’ve already done to our atmosphere and why there are folks in other parts of the world suffering from extreme weather changes and climate change. I’ve done some digging and found out some things that might help shed light in certain aspects of this issue. Some of the things I found out include terminology, eye opening facts, and other interesting tidbits.
Climate vs. Weather
It kind of baked my noggin when I found out that weather and climate are two very different things. Well, the folks I know and everyone in our neighborhood use these two terms interchangeably, so why blame me? I literally grew up thinking that we’re talking about the selfsame thing when we talk about climate and weather.
NASA Connect segment explaining the difference between weather and climate.
Here’s an example of a standard definition of what the term climate means:
“the average course or condition of the weather at a place usually over a period of years as exhibited by temperature, wind velocity, and precipitation”
Now here’s a standard definition of weather from the same source, Merriam-Webster:
“the state of the atmosphere with respect to heat or cold, wetness or dryness, calm or storm, clearness or cloudiness”
Since weather deals more with the state of the atmosphere then we would be talking about a lot of different variables that affect the atmosphere around us. That would include the amount of rainfall, the humidity in certain locations, and the temperature in different regions.
Come to think of it, we usually ask our friends how the weather is like in their locality and we do really refer to the current state of affairs in their area rather than an overall outlook of things in a specific period of time.
And I guess that is what climate means. It is an overall estimate of the prevailing weather conditions throughout a given period of time. We’re not just dealing with a few very hot days when we’re talking about climate – we’re actually talking about an entire hot season like summer.
So, basically, when we talk about climate change we’re talking about changing weather patterns where summers get shifted or perhaps prevailing weather conditions get worse. We’re not just dealing with a singular phenomenon happening in a certain locality but we’re actually dealing with long term changes in our atmosphere that affects us on a global scale.
That to me is the really scary part. Well, I know what I can do and what I’m doing to help but I am not sure what the rest of the world is doing to help – whether they’re helping or not at all. The way things are getting worse, I think I might be one of the few who take on this lonely crusade.
Has the World’s Climate Ever Changed in the Past?
Absolutely. Just remember the previous ice age. However, we should take note that it took about a million years before the climate to ever change so drastically like that. It’s sad to note that the type of global warming we’re experiencing now didn’t take a million years to happen. It all happened in just the last century. I’m guessing right around the industrial revolution – just my hunch and I will need to dig into this a little deeper. It should also be noted that the warming up of our planet in the last 50 years is double the increase in global temperature in the last 100 years.
Natural Causes or Man Made Causes
Now that is a big question that we all need to look into. Can we really blame nature for any changes in our planet’s climate? Or perhaps, we only have ourselves to blame? Experts admit that natural fluctuations in weather patterns do occur. The climate also varies naturally. However, such natural shifts in climate occur over a lot of timescales. One such example that experts point to is the El Nino oscillation.
We all know that the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a huge factor in global warming. I once thought – why not just get rid of all of them, which was really silly of me come to think of it. Having read up a bit about the thing, I guess there is enough reason why we should keep them after all.
Yes, greenhouse gases have their natural use too. These greenhouse gases tend to absorb radiation from the sun in order to keep our planet warm enough in order to sustain life. What happened in the last 100 years is that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has drastically increased. No, volcanoes did not cause the increase since the gases they produce are pretty miniscule compared to the amount of greenhouse gases that we humans have produced in the past century.
If you’re wondering what are these greenhouse gases that everyone is talking about then here’s a short list you can go over:
1. water vapor (this is the most common of all the greenhouse gases)
In that list, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane occur naturally in our atmosphere. On the other hand, sulphur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons, and hydrofluorocarbons are synthetically produced. They are either created and used in today’s modern industry or are nothing more than just by products of every single nation’s industrial processes.
Considering all that stuff that goes into our air, I think industry leaders have a great responsibility with regard to cleaning up our atmosphere. Synthetic greenhouse gas emissions should either be controlled or taken out of the picture for good measure. The natural stuff we can’t do anything about but the synthetically produced greenhouses gases should be a point of great concern.
Looking at the Impact
We have to embrace the fact that climate change will change all climates both locally and globally. It is affecting the way we live, our economies, communities, and industries. As our understanding of the impact of climate change grows the more we are made aware of the sources of our current problems. I just hope that we will be able to find robust solutions and not just have world leaders make their citizens brace themselves for a backlash coming from mother nature.