Climate vs Weather...what's the difference anyway?

Climate change vs global warming


I wanted to address something that a certain someone high up in government said recently about climate change. They were asked what they thought of the California wildfires and climate change and they said something along the lines of “well it’s going to cool off soon so we’re fine.” And unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve heard this. Heck, when I was younger, I used to say the same thing.



So, I want to talk about climate vs weather and why man made climate change really is heating up the earth even if you have a cold winter. The main difference is the length of time. Climate is “the weather conditions prevailing in areas in general for a long period of time” while weather is “the state of the atmosphere with respect to wind, temperature, cloudiness, moisture, etc.” it is “the mix of events that happen each day within the atmosphere.”


Weather is day to day while climate is years, decades, or even centuries.


But, here’s how they relate. “The average weather pattern in a place over several decades is called climate. Climate is different based on different regions of the world. As the global climate changes, weather patterns change, too. It is hard to say if today’s weather was affected by climate change, but it is possible to predict changes in weather that might happen due to climate change. It could mean hotter summers and fewer extreme winters. Other climate events like El Nino” can also affect weather.”


When a scientist discusses climate, they look at the average, temperature, precipitation, humidity, sunshine, wind, as well as other aspects of weather that occur in an area over a long period of time. They typically use a time period of 30 years to determine climate normals. This is how climate scientists can tell if the changes we are seeing to our current climate are normal or not. They compare the next 30 years predictions to the current 30 year time span to the last 30 years. All regions have climates. I live in a subtropical climate now, but my home in Ohio was temperate and my home in Texas was hot and dry. But, the globe also has a global climate and all planets have different climates too depending on energy from the sun and energy trapped in the system. Climate scientists look at this global climate.



So, how does the climate even change?


Right now the earth is warming more quickly than it ever has on record. This is affecting the weather, of course, but it is also affecting earth’s average global temperature. It can change by the amounts of solar radiation, the chemistry of the atmosphere, cloud, and the biosphere. As global climate changes, weather changes. For example, climate scientists predict more extreme weather events as the climate warms. We see this every year as the world experiences more fires and more intense fires as well as more and more intense hurricanes/typhoons.


Climate and it’s changes will have an impact on everyone around the globe from rising ocean levels to precipitation pattern changes and other events. It can affect crop yields, forests, water supplies and so much more than what we think about. We hear climate change and just instantly think rising ocean levels but it is so much more than just that. It will soon start to affect our day to day lives, some more than others.



What is global warming?


Global warming is the “long-term heating of Earth’s climate observed since the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900. Specifically, observing the heating due to human activities like burning fossil fuels which has increased the amount of heat trapped from greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. Since the early 1900s, Earth’s global average temperature has increased by about 1 degree Celsius which keeps going up about .2 degrees Celsius per decade. Most of this warming is extremely likely due to human activity since the 1950s.


While global warming is frequently used interchangeably with climate change, they are a bit different.



What is climate change?


Climate change is a “long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define the global climate whether man-made or natural.” It can reference the man-made heating of the earth primarily caused by burning fossil fuels, but it can also be natural processes like El Nino, for example. Climate data have helped scientists see evidence of climate change key indicators.



Why is thinking they are all the same problematic?


Thinking that just because winter is cold means climate change doesn’t exist is extremely problematic. This is dismissing decades of science. In fact, climate change and global warming go hand-in-hand. They are related, but just because the globe is warming, doesn’t just mean more heat-related events. Climate change can also mean milder winters, yes, but also more extreme winters depending on where you live. Climate change affects more than just the temperature, but all aspects of climate. It changes wind patterns, pressure systems, precipitation. It can cause droughts, fires, floods, hurricanes, and more. It’s not just “well this summer is hot, must be global warming.” It is so much more than that and I talk about it in my video/post about the California forest fires and how they are caused by climate change.


When people assume climate = weather, they don’t want to change. When they dismiss a hot summer and assume “well it’s about to be cool again in a couple months” they don’t want to reduce their personal carbon footprint or help the world reduce theirs. They might dismiss the science, not vote for green candidates, not quit their wasteful habits, and so forth.



Why do people think this way?


I personally think a lot of it is ignorance.


It’s not because people don’t want to believe the scientists, but rather, it’s one of those situations that the less you know, the better off you’ll be. If you don’t know, it’s not your problem. You won’t have to worry about climate anxiety and worry about how wasteful we continue to live.


Another big reason is the information deficit, or lack of information.


Because people don’t really understand what global warming and climate change and weather are, they just assume all is fine. So, be sure to share this with others to inform them! And, this isn’t just the fact that we need more scientists preaching about their research, but we need more climate advocates, more politicians talking about climate change, more leaders and teachers and others talking about it. The more we talk about it, the more we know!



Another reason...the money.


I feel like politicians and business people refuse to let the facts of climate change affect them because of the money. I mean, how is Amazon going to make money if they have to change all their factories to carbon neutral. How are oil and coal companies going to survive a world transitioning to renewable energy? They won’t, so they refuse to believe in climate change and continue to go about their days in ignorant bliss.


Lastly, my two cents on this, is that it’s inconvenient.


It’s inconvenient to understand how climate change works and change your lifestyle to live with less of an impact. When you learn how much CO2 is emitted from an airplane, you’ll want to fly less. When you learn how much plastic ends up in the ocean every year, you’ll want to use less plastic, but at what cost. Flying is so much more convenient that driving and plastic is much more convenient than spending forever trying to find an alternative. So, it comes back to ignorance once again. People don’t want to change their lives, so they chose to live in ignorance.



It shouldn’t be political


Like other social justice issues (yes, they’re related), environmentalism has been deemed political with left-wingers swaying towards believing in climate change and right-wingers believing it’s fake. But, why again is a question of morals and ethics political? Why is letting our planet decay and our population suffer a question of if you are conservative or liberal? It blows my mind. Climate change is about survival, it really is for most of the earth’s population. You can learn more about environmental racism in this video, but basically what it boils down to is that people in wealthy nations like the US don’t understand the real consequences of climate change because it’s not affecting us as drastically yet.



Thank you so much for reading. I hope this was educational and you learned something. Let me know down below why you think that people deny climate change.


Until next time, remember that the small changes you make have a big impact in the long run :)


Emma


More Sources:


https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/how-weather-works/weather

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/weather/

https://eo.ucar.edu/kids/green/what1.htm

https://www.climateurope.eu/what-is-climate-and-climate-change/

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/09/meet-man-who-told-trump-climate-change-real

https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/weather-vs-climate#:~:text=Whereas%20weather%20refers%20to%20short,regions%20can%20have%20different%20climates.&text=Weather%20tells%20you%20what%20to,to%20have%20in%20your%20closet.

https://climate.nasa.gov/resources/global-warming-vs-climate-change/

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/noaa-n/climate/climate_weather.html

https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/climate-change-psychology-1.4920872


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Emma

Dendler

Hey there! Thanks for stopping by! 

My name is Emma. I am a 20-year-old new to this sustainable lifestyle. I am here to give you my tips as I learn them and help beginners begin their sustainable life...

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