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Today’s Weather Lesson: Global Warming, Climate Change and the Polar Vortex

For years, we heard people say and write about global warming and how dangerous it is. More recently, I’ve heard and read more about climate change and how dangerous it is. For me, climate change became more common after this winter, when something called the polar vortex made winter downright ugly for millions of Americans.

Are global warming and climate change the same? Should we have used one more than the other, and had we done so, would we have by now done more about the weather?

I used to think that had we used climate change all along, we would have done more to protect our planet. Instead, we used global warming, which allowed naysayers to speak up and make too many people believe it’s all a myth.

Then I did my research.

Global warming and climate change are not the same. Global warming is an increase in the Earth’s temperature due to increasing use of greenhouse gases. According to NASA, the term became popular in June 1988, when a scientist, while testifying before Congress, said, “(G)lobal warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and the observed warming.” According to, global warming exists and can be seen in retreating ice caps, dry lakes, increased habitat reduction for animals (think of the now-infamous polar bear on a lone iceberg), global temperature rises, shifts in weather, coral bleaching, sea-level rise and more.

Climate change, meanwhile, refers to a long-term change in Earth’s weather, either as a whole or in a particular region. Many sources I found online say that climate change is always happening because climate always changes. But, says, climate change is not a belief system (as in, “I believe in climate change” or “I don’t believe in climate change).

In fact, ays, “global warming is human-induced climate change.” The Environmental Protection Agency says that increasing surface temperatures causes climate to change.

As for the polar vortex, it is a large-scale cyclone located near the geographic poles. In the Northern Hemisphere, this cyclone is found in the middle and upper troposphere and the stratosphere. It’s always there, strongest in winter and weakest in summer. People might want to claim that because of global warming or climate change, the vortex reached further south than usual, but the EPA said it is data that contributes to the body of evidence of climate change.

So, be careful of the terms you use. They are not the same.

Until next time! Use the right words!

April 1, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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