Erin Potter, Columnist
There has been a lot of talk about global warming and climate change. We’ve been seeing strange changes in the weather. What does it all mean? What is the difference between global warming and climate change, between weather and climate? What does it mean for us and why should we care? This is not a topic that can be ignored because of the politics surrounding it. In order to understand this ‘hotly’ debated topic we first need to understand all this technical jargon.
We all know what weather is- rain, snow, floods, droughts, etc. This is very important for understanding climate change. Though we are seeing changes like more frequent heat waves, droughts and heavier rain, we can’t blame single events on climate changes. Climate is the composite of weather events in a region over a period of time.
Climate change is exactly that: a change in climate. Weather changes every day, so the composite of weather (climate) changes over a longer period of time, climate change is happening all the time! The Eastern Regional Climate Services director, Ellen Mecray, says “Climate- it’s not whether you believe in it or not, it’s not a religion, it’s a word.” The debate among politicians is whether or not humans are causing the recent warming trend, which brings us to global warming; a rise in the average global temperature believed to be caused by the greenhouse effect (where greenhouses gases such as carbon dioxide trap heat and act like a blanket).
Many believe human activity is causing more greenhouse gases to be emitted and there appears to be striking evidence to support this, but my goal is neither to tell you what that evidence is nor to spit a bunch of statistics at you. I simply want to tell you that the climate is changing and the impacts it will have on our environment and on us. We know that the climate is changing; we are feeling the effects. It is important to recognize that there is something that you care about that is and will be affected by the climate changing.