Global Warming vs. Climate Change: Is There a Difference?
Global warming and climate change. Two words with many interpretations that are often used (incorrectly) interchangeably. While both are relevant to the severe environmental issues we face, these two concepts play different roles in these environmental issues and it is essential to know the difference.
At Bite, we are proud to offer sustainable products that support a greener future, and today we are here to walk you through the relationship between global warming and climate change.
What Is Global Warming?
Global warming refers to the rise of the global average temperature that experts began to measure during the Industrial Revolution (this isn’t anything new!)
With the expansion of factories during the Industrial Revolution, carbon emissions increased and became a major contributor to the earth’s pollution.
In the last 40 years, the earth’s temperature has risen by .32 degrees Fahrenheit every decade — and this requires action.
What Is Climate Change?
Climate change directly results from global warming, caused by carbon emissions and greenhouse gases.
Climate change is a long-term shift in weather patterns and temperatures, and the effects of climate change are widespread. As climate change progresses, sea levels rise, we see more wildfires, and sea ice melts, eliminating habitats for various species and making areas inhabitable to animals that once resided in them.
How Does Global Warming Impact Climate Change?
Outside of natural shifts in weather patterns, global warming also impacts climate change because of greenhouse gas emissions.
Greenhouse gases like atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane result in climate change because they trap the sun’s heat. This greenhouse effect leads to a temperature rise that contributes to an overall changing climate.
Understanding the Ozone Layer
The ozone layer acts as a shield over the earth that protects it from the sun’s harmful radiation. The ozone layer absorbs the UVB rays that are linked to various health issues like skin cancer and cataracts — it is crucial to the health of our earth and all of its inhabitants.
Ozone-depleting substances like CFCs, commonly found in aerosol canned products, have led to a hole in the ozone layer. This raises concerns about the increase in UVB rays penetrating through the ozone layer and speeding up global warming.
We may not usually think about how glaciers affect us, but they provide vital resources like water and power that help fuel and sustain society worldwide.
Glaciers are a natural resource that provides water and hydroelectric power, an alternative to the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy.
Because of heat waves caused by global warming, the excessive melting of arctic glaciers has caused a rise in sea level and decreased resources like water and the generation of power.
What Contributes to Global Warming?
In a highly industrialized world, countless human activities contribute to global warming. Below are some of the most significant contributions to the rise in the average surface temperature of our earth.
Fossil fuels are a significant resource for generating energy.
Fossil fuels are made from fossils — or deceased animal and plant remains and burned to generate energy. The problem with this practice is that burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the earth’s atmosphere.
Deforestation happens when trees are cut down for the purpose of making space to raise livestock, aiding construction, or manufacturing.
Forests are crucial to our survival and the earth’s health because trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Forests are also significant sources of food and medicine, and they provide jobs for millions of people.
Deforestation requires the clearing of land that contains carbon; when trees are uprooted and land is cleared, carbon is released into the air, causing air pollution.
Animal agriculture plays a role in global warming because of how significant the industry is. The meat industry requires copious amounts of vital resources like water, land, and energy.
Animal agriculture is the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Beef consumption creates 1,984 pounds of carbon dioxide annually (that’s as heavy as a walrus!), and toxic methane is released by animal manure. If we replaced beef with plant-based protein sources, we could reduce this dangerous statistic by 96%.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the world has turned to industrial processes for the production and commerce of most products across the globe, and the generation of energy is crucial to these processes.
Only 100 energy companies are responsible for 71% of all industrial carbon emissions. These carbon emissions are a large contributor to global warming and have devastating impacts on the environment. In other words, corporations have a massive responsibility when it comes to environmental harm reduction.
At Bite, we know that the way we produce and deliver our products can impact the environment. That is why we have a line of clean, sustainable oral care products packaged in recyclable and compostable materials to keep our carbon emissions as low as possible.
Most vehicles are fueled by gasoline, a liquid that is both highly toxic and highly flammable. Gasoline alone is a dangerous substance, but it produces toxic vapors and carbon dioxide when burned.
Burning just one gallon of gasoline produces around 19 pounds of carbon dioxide, and in 2020, aviation and motor gasoline combustion in the US produced 979 million metric tons of carbon emissions.
What Are Greenhouse Gases?
Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in our atmosphere. Some common examples of greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, and fluorinated gases.
How Do Greenhouse Gases Get Released?
Greenhouse gases are released by human activities like burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and even using an excess of hot water. These gases can stay in the atmosphere from anywhere between a few and thousands of years.
Regardless of how long greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere, they remain long enough to cause devastating consequences for the earth.
What Drives Climate Change?
Harmful human activities drive global warming, and the steady progression of global warming is what ultimately drives climate change. From manufacturing processes releasing carbon dioxide to overconsumption of resources, it's safe to say humans play a part.
However, there are also specific consequences of global warming and natural factors driving climate change. Below, we’ve outlined some key natural factors influencing climate change, as well as the consequences of these issues.
Because of the constant release of carbon emissions, the earth is continuing to rise in temperature, which causes long-term changes to climate and weather patterns. Extreme weather, natural disasters like droughts, and intense storms happen as a result.
Continental drift refers to significant horizontal movements of continents, which is a natural process.
Continental drift affects drives climate change as changes in the earth’s crust and mantle affect the atmosphere and oceans.
Changes in Earth’s Orbit
The earth has Milankovitch Cycles, which are changes in the earth’s orbit.
What exactly does this mean?
In simple words, these cycles affect how much heat the earth receives from the sun, which influences its overall climate. These cycles are responsible for great climatic changes like ice ages.
The Bottom Line
Knowing the differences between global warming and climate change is crucial to the work we can do to help fight climate change and its damaging effects on our earth.
We can take small steps as individuals to reduce waste and our carbon emissions that fuel the cycle of global warming and climate change, and we at Bite make that easy and enjoyable for you, one toothpaste bit at a time.