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What is the difference between climate change and global warming?

Global warming causes climate change, so the 2 terms are very much related. Global warming is the term used to describe the current increase in the Earth's average temperature. Climate change refers not only to global changes in temperature but also to changes in wind, precipitation, the length of seasons as well as the strength and frequency of extreme weather events like droughts and floods.

Another difference between the 2 terms is that global warming is a worldwide phenomena while climate change can be seen at global, regional or even more local scales.1 2 But both global warming and climate change can also produce different impacts depending on the local geography as well as the local inhabitants (plants, animals, etc). Many of these changes will cause unexpected and dangerous effects on life around the world.3

  • 1. Allison, Ian. The science of climate change: questions and answers. Canberra: Australian Academy of Science, 2010.
  • 2. UNESCO/UNEP. Climate Change Starter's Guidebook: An issues guide for education planners and practitioners. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, 2011.
  • 3. Bernstein, Lenny, R. K. Pachauri, and Andy Reisinger. Climate change 2007: synthesis report. Geneva, Switzerland: IPCC, 2008.

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