Climate change and global warming are two terms we often hear from environmentalists and policymakers. So common are these phrases that they’re often used interchangeably. While these terms are closely related, they do have slight differences.
So, is global warming the same as climate change? Climate change is the more important term, as it describes the long-term changes in the earth’s climate patterns, as measured through wind patterns, rising temperature, and precipitation, to name a few. Global warming, which refers to the rising global temperatures, falls in the ambit of climate change and serves as only one of the latter’s significant indications.
In this blog, you’ll find out the leading causes of climate change and some tips on mitigating their destructive impact on the environment.
Causes of climate change
Rapid industrialization and other practices that emit greenhouse gases are the main culprits of the planet’s worsening condition. Manufacturing plastics, fabrics, and anything that requires burning fossil fuels increases the planet’s carbon dioxide levels and other dangerous greenhouse gases that prevent heat from escaping the environment, such as nitrous oxide, and infamous Chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs.
As heat stays for longer on the planet, this warms up the Earth, causing global warming. As some of these gases don’t break down chemically or physically when exposed to temperature fluctuations, they instead form a blanket around the planet. Thus, they produce a lasting effect that could lead to severe and near-permanent changes in the climate.
Warning signs of climate change
Over the year, we’ve seen the damaging impact of climate change in different parts of the world. In general, we’ve felt the atmospheric temperatures getting higher, droughts have worsened and taken longer. Storms have become more violent, and ocean water temperatures are getting warmer, with sea levels rising.
Global warming has led to ice melting faster over at the North Pole, and the same can be said of other glaciers worldwide. Methane gas trapped under the ice is also released as the icebergs melt, increasing the greenhouse effect.
If left unabated, these damaging occurrences can lead to severe losses. Estimates revealed that the United States had experienced more than USD 500 billion in damages due to climate change over the last five years.
5 Ways to mitigate climate change
After knowing the main contributors to climate change and how damaging the latter can be, it’s imperative to minimize its impact. As human activities are primarily blamed for the phenomenon, it’s also up to us to mitigate it by doing the following:
- Limit food consumption
Non-sustainable agricultural practices can also release heat-trapping gases into the air and also contribute to deforestation. An environmental group has quoted a study by the University of Oxford, stating that some 66 gigatons of carbon emissions will be reduced if half of the world’s population decides to eat less animal meat. The same can be said for reducing food waste, where up to 70.5 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions can be prevented if we only buy what we can consume.
- Shift to renewable energy sources
Green energy is an emerging subsector in the power industry. However, most countries, low- to middle-income economies, still rely on fossil fuels to address their power requirements.
Homeowners can do their part by shifting to renewable sources, such as solar energy. More prominent companies and some communities can also use wind turbines to reduce power costs. Governments and the private sector can also consider more investments in hydroelectric power.
- Change buying habits
Buying only what you can consume can also be applied to your general purchasing behavior. Besides being one of the most resource-intensive industries, fashion products make up a huge chunk of household trash. Remember that fashion is retroactive; you don’t have to buy from recently-produced fashion lines all the time. At the same time, you don’t need to throw away things that you no longer wear.
The same can be said when choosing home fixtures and other materials. Energy-saving appliances such as light-emitting (LED) require less power, which helps you save and reduce environmental impact. In fact, some 7.8 gigatons of carbon can be held if consumers worldwide make the switch.
- Walk more
The world’s transportation systems are also some of the most significant sources of carbon emissions. While electric and hybrid cars are available on the market, these remain too expensive for most.
If you can’t afford to shift to eco-friendlier vehicles, why not walk more or use a bicycle? Aside from cutting down on carbon emissions, these alternatives also double as an affordable form of exercise.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose
Businesses and residential consumers should be aware of reducing waste by recycling or repurposing. Estimates reveal that if households were active in repurposing or recycling, some 2.8 gigatons of carbon emissions could be saved. Make sure to know how to recycle correctly, though, as doing it wrong can worsen the situation.
Mitigating the impact of climate change requires a top-to-bottom approach. While you can do several things and contribute in your way, policymakers must also craft enabling laws to actually make a significant change. These could include providing more incentives and discounts for renewable energy users and encouraging sustainable agricultural practices. By doing your part and advocating for more nature-friendly leadership, the effects of climate change can be kept to a minimum.
- “Is Global Warming the Same as Climate Change?”, Source: https://uniteforchange.com/en/blog/climate-change/global-warming-difference/
- “The Causes of Climate Change”, Source: https://climate.nasa.gov/causes/
- “What are some of the signs of climate change?”, Source: https://www.usgs.gov/faqs/what-are-some-signs-climate-change
- “10 Ways You Can Fight Climate Change”, Source: https://www.greenamerica.org/your-green-life/10-ways-you-can-fight-climate-change