Are Climate Change and Global Warming the Same?
Earth’s climate has changed a great deal historically largely due to changes in solar input from shifts in our planet’s orbit. For example, the last ice age ended only 7000 years ago.
In contrast, the recent rapid rise in global temperature is mainly driven by increased levels of carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions. Most of the warming has happened in the last 35 years, with 16 of the 17 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. The warmest year on record was 2016.
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) defines global warming as the “the average global surface temperature increase from human emissions of greenhouse gases.”
I thought scientists disagreed about global warming.
No respected scientific body disagrees with the idea that human-induced changes in greenhouse gases have lead to global increases in temperature. So-called disputes are much more common in the popular media. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), an authoritative scientific body set up by the U.N., calls this warming “unequivocal”.
What is climate change denial?
Various groups, many with a great deal of money, have tried to downplay or dismiss the scientific consensus on warming, its importance, and the degree to which humans are responsible. Petroleum interests and politicians who represent them have much to lose in an America fueled by alternative sources of energy.
It is critical to recognize that denial is very different from skepticism. Scientists are trained to be skeptical – to question sources of information, the quality of the data, and so on. This is part of the process of science. But climate change denial is very different from this. Denialists know they are right and they cherry-pick information to prove what they claim. They recycle old myths, rely on fake experts and non-peer reviewed sources, and basically invent conspiracy and controversy where none exists.
Sources for additional information
- “Global Warming 101” (National Resource Defense Council)
- “State of the Climate” (NOAA)
- National Academy of Sciences
Books on My Bookshelf
- Heatstroke: Nature in an Age of Global Warming (Anthony D. Barnosky)
- The Weather Makers (Tim Flannery)
- Storms of My Grandchildren (James Hansen)
- Climate Cover-Up (James Hoggan)
- Field Notes from a Catastrophe (Elizabeth Kolbert)
- The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars (Michael E. Mann)
- The Global Warming Reader (Bill McKibben)
- Merchants of Doubt (Naomi Oreskes and Eric M. Conway)
- The Inquisition of Climate Science (James Lawrence Powell)
- The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy (Michael Mann and Tom Toles)
- Flight Behavior (Barbara Kingsolver)
- Solar (Ian McEwan)
- Odds Against Tomorrow (Nathaniel Rich)
- For over 300 titles, click on the link.