Global warming and general shifts in global climate have been subjects of ongoing study and debate for at least the past decade. Unfortunately, many facts regarding these phenomena are often selected or swayed by political and economical concerns. To scientifically understand these occurrences without bias, one must first define both terms:
Climate change was first seriously studied in the late 1800s, though theories had evolved among the scientific community before then. It is studied by observing weather patterns, measuring temperatures and solar radiation, observing artic ice patterns and taking glacier samples. Global warming was a phenomenon suspected during the 19th and 20th centuries, though the term was not officially coined until the late 1960s.
Climate change has affected the earth for millions of years, and can be influenced by many factors. Geographic changes (such as earthquakes or eruptions), solar radiation, human activity and ocean currents can all cause climate change. Slight changes in the earth’s orbit can also affect climate. For example, changes in the earth’s volcanic activity, ocean tides and other variables are thought to have caused the Little Ice Age between 1550 and 1850. Climate change typically happens slowly, usually over hundreds of years; even the fastest climate changes still take several decades.
Global warming is a direct result of a dramatic climate change due to human activity. As of now, it stands as the only serious climate change in the earth’s history directly resulting from human beings. Global warming seems to have increased due to the greenhouse effect. This effect is cause by both natural and human activity that produces certain atmospheric gases, which traps solar radiation in the atmosphere. Scientists almost unanimously agree that human activity that contributed to global warming included the increased use of fossil fuels since industrialization, and a rise in deforestation.
Though climate change is natural, global warming is not. Global warming has been causing damaging effects to the earth. It results in rising sea levels, which can produce coastal floods and tsunamis. Increased temperatures resulting from global warming can also affect food production and ecosystems. It a serious problem that science organizations and governments are addressing through various programs worldwide.