The Difference Between Climate Change and Global Warming

The terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ are always being used interchangeably. You can use either terms to describe what’s happening to our Earth, the fact still stands that this is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. Regardless of whether you say that climate change is all the side effects of global warming, or that global warming is one symptom of human-caused climate change, you’re essentially talking about the same basic phenomenon: the buildup of excess heat energy in the Earth system. So why do we have two ways of describing what is basically the same thing? Let’s start with climate change.


Climate Change

What is climate change? Climate change can mean human-caused changes or natural ones, such as ice ages. Climate change includes warming and the “side effects” of warming—like melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, or more frequent drought. To put things into perspective, global warming is one symptom of the much larger problem of human-caused climate change.


If climate change and global warming are referring to two different things, why do we use them interchangeably? Well, when we talk about climate change we’re usually referring to global warming because our planet is currently experiencing climate change in the form of rising temperatures.


Temperature change itself isn’t the only severe effect of climate change. Changes to precipitation patterns and sea levels are likely to have much greater human impact than the higher temperatures alone. For this reason, scientific research on climate change encompasses far more than surface temperature change. So “global climate change” is the more all-inclusive and scientifically accurate term. 


Global Warming

Let’s talk about what global warming really is. Global warming refers to the Earth’s rising surface temperature. It describes an increase in Earth’s average temperature over time. These temperatures may not rise by the same amount everywhere, and it also does not mean that everywhere in the world will get warmer, some locations may not be affected. To measure the increment of global warming, we have to consider the Earth as a whole and determine its average temperature. 


The increase in temperature could be due to natural or unnatural forces such as an increase in greenhouse gases, particularly from the burning of fossil fuels. When scientists or opinion leaders talk about the effects of global warming, they usually mean warming caused by human activities, as today’s global warming is overwhelmingly due to the increase in heat-trapping gases that humans are adding to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.


To conclude, ‘global warming’ applies to the long-term trend of rising average global temperatures, and ‘climate change’ is a broader term that reflects the fact that carbon pollution does more than just warm our planet.


What Are We Doing About This?

There is a growing concern in seeking sustainable alternative energy sources. Passing through the Earth’s atmosphere, most of the solar energy is in the form of visible light and ultraviolet light. Today, energy consumption is growing at a substantial rate. The use of the sun for energy production is a reality that is increasingly present in our lives.


To understand the ways in which solar power helps prevent climate change, we must understand a little more about the benefits of solar energy and its importance. The simplest definition of solar energy is; the name given to any light energy taken from the sun, and succeeding conversion of energy obtained in some form.


Most of our energy comes from burning fossil fuels, a process that emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas (GHG). GHGs trap and add extra heat to the global system in ways that are changing the climate. This is harmful for the Earth, as once CO2 reaches the atmosphere, it stays there for thousands of years. The decisions people make today will have consequences well into the future.


Solar energy has long been thought as better for the environment compared to fossil fuels. Solar panels do not release any emissions as they generate electricity. Researchers found that if people switched from conventional fossil fuel-burning power plants to solar cells, air pollution would be cut by roughly 90 percent. 


Where your household’s energy comes from makes a big difference in how environmentally impactful a switch to solar can be. Sourcing solar energy is relatively simple. With enough space, solar panels can be installed just about anywhere – on a parcel of land, carports, rooftops, the wings of a plane, cars and with advances in technology, they will even replace window panes. Where there is sunlight and space, solar energy is accessible.


Source of Feature Image by The Daily Star 

Renewable Energy Sources

What is renewable energy?

Have you been wondering what “renewable energy” really means? Renewable energy, or sometimes referred to as clean energy, is energy that comes from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished naturally. They are part of the planet’s physical structure, which means they are constantly being renewed by natural means. They simply cannot run out. For example, sunlight that keeps shining or wind that keeps blowing, even if their availability depends on time and weather. Renewable energy plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Using renewable energy can reduce the use of fossil fuels, which are major sources of carbon dioxide emissions.


These sustainable energy sources are often called “alternative energy sources” because they’re considered to be an alternative to traditional fossil fuels such as oil and coal. Alternative energy encompasses all those things that do not consume fossil fuel. They are widely available and environment friendly. This is because alternative energy resources pack a much lighter environmental footprint than fossil fuels. This is why renewable energy sources are so important – they are our solution to a less polluted world. Even if we did not face the threat of climate change, minimizing pollution is basic for good health. Let’s take a look at some of the renewable energy sources that are currently available to us.


  1. Solar Energy

Solar energy is one of the alternative energy sources that is most widely used across the world. It was in use much earlier before humans even learn how to light a fire. Many living things are dependent on solar energy, such as plants, aquatic life and the animals. About 70% of the sunlight gets reflected back into the space and we have only 30% of sunlight to meet up our energy demands. While solar energy is used for producing solar energy, it is also used for drying clothes, used by plants during the process of photosynthesis and also used by human beings during winter seasons to make their body temperature warm. 


Solar energy can be extracted by using photovoltaic (PV) cells. These photovoltaic (PV) cells are made from silicon or other materials that transform sunlight directly into electricity that will be used in generating light and heat. Distributed solar systems generate electricity locally for homes and businesses, either through rooftop panels or community projects that power entire neighborhoods. Solar energy has the least negative impact on the environment compared to any other energy source. It does not produce greenhouse gases and does not pollute the water. As long as there is sunshine, solar energy can be deployed anywhere. This is particularly useful for remote regions with no access to any other source of electricity.  


  1. Wind Energy

This is one of the energy sources that have been in use for a very long time and for centuries. One of the biggest advantages of wind energy is that wind is an unlimited, free, renewable resource. Harvesting wind power is a clean, non-polluting way to generate electricity. Unlike other types of power plants, it emits no air pollutants or greenhouse gases. The wind turbines harmlessly generate electricity from wind passing by. A single windmill can power the crop irrigation, water pumping and electric lights. Nowadays, there are several windmills that are used to generate required energy mostly for industrial uses. Many of the wind turbines can capture much power all at once before feeding it to the power grid. 


  1. Hydroelectric Energy

Flowing water creates energy that can be captured and turned into electricity. This is called hydroelectric energy or hydropower. Hydroelectric energy stations capture the kinetic energy of moving water and give mechanical energy to turbines. The moving turbines then convert mechanical energy into electrical energy through generators. The most common type of hydroelectric power plant uses a dam on a river to store water in a reservoir. Water released from the reservoir flows through a turbine, spinning it, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity. Hydropower is the largest producer of alternative energy in the world.


  1. Biomass Energy

Biomass energy is also another renewable source of energy that uses organic materials from plants and animals. This is the process by which an alternative energy is generated through conversion of biological materials and wastes into forms that can be used as energy sources for heating, power generation and transportation. Solid biomass, such as wood and garbage, can be burned directly to produce heat. Biomass can also be converted into a gas called biogas or into liquid biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. These fuels can then be burned for energy. Those carbon based substances or materials converted over a long period of time to fossil fuels are not regarded as biomass. 




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