A few weeks it snowed. This prompted a huge amount of people around me to discuss weather patterns and what they mean in relation to climate change. A lot of things I overheard were comments like, “Well it’s snowing so I guess global warming and climate change are hoaxes.” This is ridiculous and here’s why:
The first thing that seems to be widely misunderstood is the difference between climate and weather. According to NASA’s website, weather is, “what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time,” and climate is, “how the atmosphere ‘behaves’ over relatively long periods of time.” This would mean that weather can change from day to day, or week to week, and not affect the climate. Climate can be easily understood as the average weather in a specific place. To even discuss what climate change is, the topic itself also needs to be defined. Climate change refers to the change in climate patterns in the 20th century due to increase in carbon dioxide produced by fossil fuels. This increase raises global temperatures, and then sea levels. Climate change is happening slowly over time and has increased in recent years.
This is where the term global warming comes into play. Global warming refers to the increase in temperature globally due to the greenhouse effect caused by an increase in carbon dioxide levels and other pollutants. It hasn’t stopped snowing altogether, but global temperatures are rising. Most global temperatures are measured by the temperature anomaly. NOAA defines temperature anomaly as, ”a departure from a reference value or long-term average temperature.” The most recent years have had the highest anomalies ever recorded with 2016 at 0.94 ° C. In a study conducted by NASA Global sea ice was proven to be diminishing. From 1996 to 2013 there was an average loss of 19,500 square miles per year.
I am confident that there is someone reading this thinking, “Ah well, the earth goes through natural heating and cooling.” There is evidence of this, however, this current period of warming has been the quickest and warmest ever recorded. Another thing that sets it apart is that it isn’tnatural. There are outside forces causing the spike in temperature that is melting the poles and changing weather patterns. There has never been another period in history where there was a large increase in greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide because there have never been so many people and so many sources of pollution. Because of this, you can’t compare the world in the 1400s to the 2000s.
This issue should be important to everyone. We can’t ignore the serious problems that come with climate change. The best ways you can help reduce your carbon footprint and slow climate change are to get informed and not ignore global warming because it snowed. If you’re already aware that climate change is a serious concern being energy efficient is important. Switching off lights, trimming your waste, and using cold water instead of hot are easy ways to do your part.