Dear 21st century humans,
There’s one thing that we have always heard when it comes to our environment. Well, three actually. These are buzz phrases that are thrown around by scientists, news anchors and politicians WHENEVER there is talk of the environment. Climate change. Global Warming. Greenhouse effect.
Oh yeah. I said them.
But the problem is, people are STILL confused about what these really mean. How are they related? Are we really in danger? Well, we are. But from what? Is it climate change? Global warming? Greenhouse effect? Are they all the same? Are they different? Which should we be worried about? Should we be worried about them at all?!
Let me take this post to answer these questions for you.
First up, let me explain what these phrases mean. That’s important.
Climate is the conditions that a place experiences over a long period of time. It is set, fixed. It’s supposed to happen year after year, for many years. But there are a lot of things that influences this climate. The solar radiation, the path of Earth around the Sun, the inclination of the Earth on it’s axis, etc. And all of this is subject to change. It changes very, very slowly, but it changes.
And when these controlling factors change, climate also changes. Historically, the climate of earth has periodically changed from very cold, to very hot. They are called glacial and interglacial periods.
This is a concept based on which greenhouses work. Basically, a greenhouse situation is when solar radiation comes into a particular enclosure, but is not allowed to leave that enclosure because of an obstruction. In real greenhouses, this obstruction is glass.
This is extrapolated to Earth. There are certain gases in the atmosphere that have this property of letting radiation come in, but doesn’t let it go out. When the amount of these gases in the atmosphere increases, naturally, the radiation they trap also increase. And that raises the temperature of lower levels of Earth.
This is the controversial thing. This is a potential situation, when conditions of Earth become really, really hot. Simple as that. There are many reasons why this could happen, including climate change. But the fact is that this situation has happened in the Earth’s geological past many times, and it’s nothing new.
As I mentioned earlier, the earth faces period changes in climate when it’s really cold, or really hot. This really hot situation is termed global warming.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s come to the main question. What is going on in our world right now? Is it climate change? Is it global warming?
The answer to that question is; Yes, it is climate change. It is potentially global warming.
Climate is, and has been changing since the end of the last Ice Age. The world has been getting hotter. So, in a way, we have been experiencing “warming”. But it’s nowhere near the kind of warming we’ve had at some times in the past. For example, in the Jurrasic times, the world was so hot that there was NO ICE on the planet, anywhere. The poor Dinos.
Compared to that, we’re in very cool times. We have plenty of ice.
The whole issue with this climate crisis is the RATE OF CHANGE OF CLIMATE.
We’re well away from the “Global Greenhouse” scenario, but the problem is, it’s coming towards us much, much faster than it should. The climate is changing, and it is changing really fast. THAT is the problem. THAT’S why this is such a big deal.
Climate change doesn’t necessarily mean that the world will get hotter everywhere. It could be that some places are becoming colder than normal, while other places are facing harsher conditions of dry/wet weather.
Nature is a beautiful machine. It has adapted itself in such a way as to deal with these periodic changes in climate. But it has adapted to a particular speed. It’s like this:
You are a new driver. In times like this, you are comfortable when cars ahead of you are coming at 40 miles per hour. But the minute you see a car coming at 140 miles, you get nervous.
Nature is that nervous driver. And it can’t adapt to this rapidly changing climate, rapidly changing environment. Which then causes all the problems that has been very well explained by scientists the world over….
So we shouldn’t really be worried about global warming. That’s a part of Earth. It will happen whether we like it or not. What we need to worry about it how fast it’ll happen. How fast the climate will change. Because if it happens while we are still trying to adapt, things could get ugly.
Basically, we need to worry about climate change. Not global warming (at least, not YET).
I hope this has cleared things a little for you. Please comment if you have more questions.
Fellow 21st century human.