When Did Global Warming Become Climate Change?

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"If we want to address global warming, along with the other environmental problems associated with our continued rush to burn our precious fossil fuels as quickly as possible, we must learn to use our resources more wisely, kick our addiction, and quickly start turning to sources of energy that have fewer negative impacts." -- David Suzuki Earlier this year one of my friends asked, “So which essay topic did you decide on?” To which I responded, “Global warming.” Then my friend responded, “That is impossible. Global warming was not even an option,” I was worried. I rushed back to my apartment and opened my course binder to find that I was actually writing about climate change and not global warming. Then I wondered, "When did global warming morph into climate change? Am I in school to learn about fashion? Are we all just following the latest trend? What does any of this have to do with science? According to Erik Conway of NASA, “Global warming refers to surface temperature increases, while climate change includes global warming and everything else that increasing greenhouse gas amounts will affect” (Conway). Recently the United States has experienced a drop in temperature. This past weekend I was walking with a friend. With nothing to talk about, the awkward silence was finally filled with a comment on the weather. He said, “It’s so incredibly cold! So much for global warming!!” What my friend, nor I at the beginning of the semester, did not understand was that “temperature change itself isn’t the most severe effect of changing climate. Changes to precipitation patterns and sea level are likely to have much greater human impact than the higher temperatures alone” (Conway). Thankfully the national media has begun to increasingly reference the more scientifically significant term: climate change.

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