Climate Change


WEATHER v. CLIMATE

WEATHER: Webster defines “weather” as the state of the atmosphere with respect to temperature, wetness, calm or storm, and degree of cloudiness. It is something that is particular to one spot on earth and changes constantly.


CLIMATE: Climate is defined as the average pattern of weather over long periods of time.

Regional Climate:Is the average weather conditions in a particular place for more than thirty years. It depends on many factors including:

• The amount of sunlight it receives

• Its height above sea-level

• The shape of the land

• How close it is to oceans

• Ocean currents

• Rainfall

• Vegetation

• Distance from equator, and

• Global climate and any changes that take place in our climate system

Global Climate:Is the climate of the entire planet with all the regional differences averaged. It depends on:

• The amount of energy received from the sun, and

• The amount of energy that is trapped in the system


OUR CLIMATE SYSTEM

Atmosphere: The atmosphere surrounds Earth and protects us by blocking out dangerous rays from the sun. It is a thin layer of mixed gases which make up the air we breathe. This thin layer also helps the Earth from becoming too hot or too cold.

Oceans: Oceans cover about 70 percent of Earth's surface. Their large size and thermal properties allow them to store a lot of heat.

Land: Land covers 27 percent of Earth's surface and land topography influences weather patterns.

Ice: Ice is the world's largest supply of freshwater. It covers the remaining 3 percent of Earth's surface including most of Antarctica and Greenland. Ice plays an important role in regulating climate, because it is highly reflective.

Biosphere: The biosphere is the part of Earth's atmosphere, land, and oceans that supports any living plant, animal, or organism. It is the place where plants and animals, including humans, live.


CLIMATE CHANGE or GLOBAL WARMING?

Climate change and global warming are terms used interchangeably to refer to an increase in average global temperatures, noticed in the last few decades.

Global Warming refers to the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s air and water since the mid-twentieth century.

Climate Change refers to the dramatic changes in weather that result from this increase. Both terms are meaningful.

Climate change is used because some areas will be dryer, some wetter, some warmer, and some colder. The impact on the planet will not be uniform and “climate change” reflects that concept more clearly than global warming, a term which leads people to believe that the temperatures will become uniformly warmer across the planet.


WHAT CAUSES CLIMATE CHANGE/GLOBAL WARMING?

The amount of energy emitted from the sun we do not control, but we affect the amount received and retained.

The amount of energy that is trapped in the system:

• Part of it is natural and necessary to maintain a balance of temperatures on the planet to sustain life. Greenhouse Gases at a safe-level maintain that balance.

• Part is man-made and totally in our control. Our actions are increasing Greenhouse Gases to an unsafe level. The cycle of burning fossil fuels - releasing more greenhouse gases - warming the air - burning fossil fuels - releasing more greenhouse gases - warming the air... This is the part which is speeding up climate change and tipping the balance towards an irreversible and dangerous climatic shift. A shift which will not be conducive to ensuring the continuity of the human race.

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