Climate change vs Global warming: best description of the difference

OSO Admin April 21, 2022 0

What is Climate Change and Global Warming?


Climate Change is the term that’s frequently used to describe the effects of Global Warming.  However, climate change and global warming are not necessarily synonymous. 

So, which is it, Climate Change or Global Warming?

This brief article explains the terms “climate change” and “global warming” and, at the end of the article, directs you to resources to help you gain a more in-depth understanding if you so desire. Our other resources will point you in the direction of what you can do to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Climate Change

Climate Change refers to the changes in long term weather term patterns that can occur for natural reasons, or as a result of human activity. The standard period of analysis [Stanford] for climate set by the World Meteorological Organization is 30 years. Planet earth is a massive, yet delicate ecosystem. Its climate system [IPCC] is an interactive system consisting of five major components which are influenced by a number of external forces, the most important of which is the sun. 

Dark clouds over mountains
Dark clouds over mountains in Australia

These five major components of our planet’s climate are:

  • the atmosphere (the layers of gases that surround the planet)
  • the hydrosphere (the combined masses of water on, under and above the surface of the Earth),
  • the cryosphere (parts of Earth covered by water in solid form, for example, ice caps, glaciers),
  • the land surface, and;
  • the biosphere (the parts of the Earth that are occupied by living organisms, such as humans, animals, plants etc.).

Global Warming

Global Warming refers to the effects of the warming of the planet throughout historic cycles or eras of evolution of life on earth.  Along with climate change the planet has gone through cycles of warmer and colder times and the resulting weather changes associated with those.  For example, as far as we know, earth has gone through at least five significant Ice Ages during the past 2.4 billion years [History].

Icebergs melting at the North Pole
Icebergs melting at the North Pole

Each one of those ice ages has resulted in thaws.  Scientists and mathematicians have been able to deduce and chart the earth’s temperature for many thousands of years, the majority of which has been a result of the earth’s orbit around the sun, axial tilt and solar radiation levels. (The earth should currently be undergoing a temperature cooling cycle [OSS] but due to the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere the opposite is the case.)

Wildfires burning

What we need to be concerned with is the acceleration of global warming as a result of human activities caused by GHGs (Greenhouse Gases) and other pollutants gathering in the atmosphere and absorbing solar radiation and sunlight, resulting in a blanket effect on the earth.  

So, where we can expect certain warming or cooling of the planet as a result of the proximity and effects of the sun (see above), what we need to be concerned with is:

  • The pace of those changes (the amount of global warming) as a result of our activities on the planet, and, more concerningly;
  • The impact of those changes to life on our planet.

The Science is Clear

While there can be arguments made for the precise timing of certain events because of human activities on the planet or the exact nature of the changes on one part of the planet or the other, there is no doubt in the scientific community about the impacts global warming will have nor about the man-made accelerators of climate change.

It is important to note that no scientific papers have been published that have been peer reviewed and validated by the academic or scientific community and have contradicted the confirmed science of the negative effects of climate change, or, more importantly, the contributing factors to accelerated global warming. The peer review process [Conversation] is critical because it validates the techniques and conclusions that scientific research must follow.

The science is clear on what is accelerating global warming, but the good news is that we still have the opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius by the end of this century, changing the pattern of global warming and the negative effects it would have on our planet.

Find out how you can play your part in ensuring the sustainability of our planet for current and future generations.

If you want to read more about the topics described here check out the references below this article.

Every Little Thing Counts.

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Citations and References
[Stanford] – Climate Science

Climate Science – (Stanford, 2018) – Accessed 30 Nov 2021

[IPCC] – The Climate System: an Overview

The Climate System: an Overview (Baede et al, 2018)- Accessed 30 Nov 2021

[History] – Ice Age

Ice Age  (, 2021) – Accessed 15 Feb 2022

[OSS] – Milankovitch Cycles

Milankovitch Cycles (OSS Foundation) Accessed 15 Feb 2022

[Conversation] – When to trust (and not to trust) peer reviewed science

When to trust (and not to trust) peer reviewed science (The Conversation, 2018) – Accessed 15 Feb 2022

[WMO] – World Meteorological Organization

World Meteorological Organization

[Myclimate] – What are Greenhouse Gases

What Are Greenhouse Gases (

Citations and references are your security that the information you get on will be accurate and trustworthy