Global Warming Defined
The terms “climate change” and “global warming” are often used interchangeably but have distinct definitions.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) defines global warming as the “long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900).” Global warming focuses on the changes in global average surface temperatures caused by human activity, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, which increases the overall amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Climate change is the long-term change in the average weather patterns that are typical for a local, region, or the globe; these changes can be natural or human-induced. Human activities that contribute to climate change include urbanization, fossil fuel burning, agriculture, deforestation, and many others. Natural processes that contribute to climate change include volcanic activity, mountain growth, El Nino and La Nina, changes in solar output, and shifts in the planet’s orbit.