Global warming glossary of terms
Glossary of Global Warming Terms:
CO2: A gas, also known as carbon dioxide, formed by the burning of organic materials such as coal, oil, gas and wood. Humans and animals inhale oxygen and exhale CO2. Plants absorb CO2 and release oxygen. CO2 and water vapour (H2O) are the most important natural greenhouse gases.
Cap and trade: An environmental policy tool aimed at reducing pollution through a creating a market in trading the right to pollute. The system places a cap on the amount of a pollutant that may be emitted, allowing companies or governments to trade their allowances.
Climate: The long-term average weather of a region including typical weather patterns, the frequency and intensity of storms, cold spells, and heat waves.
Climate Change: Climate change refers to any distinct change in measures of climate lasting for a long period of time. Climate change may result from natural factors or human activities.
Enhanced greenhouse effect: It is the concept that the natural greenhouse effect has been exacerbated by human emissions of greenhouse gases through fossil fuel consumption, exerting a warming influence on the climate.
Emissions: The release of a substance (usually a gas when referring to the subject of climate change) into the atmosphere.
Global warming: An increase in the average global temperature. The rate of warming has increased since the 1950s, which is mainly due to increased greenhouse gas emissions. The warming is greatest over the land and near the poles. Rising temperatures in the Earth's atmosphere can contribute to changes in global climate patterns.
Global change: A broad term that refers to changes in the global environment, including climate change, ozone depletion, and land-use change.
Greenhouse gas: Any gas that absorbs infra-red radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs) , ozone (O3), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
Greenhouse effect: The Earth's greenhouse effect is a natural occurrence that helps regulate the temperature of our planet. When the Sun heats the Earth, some of this heat escapes back to space. The rest of the heat, also known as infrared radiation, is trapped in the atmosphere by clouds and greenhouse gases, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide.
The Kyoto Protocol: Appendix to the UN's climate convention, which among other things imposes concrete reductions in greenhouse gas emissions on a number of industrialized countries.
Nitrous oxide: N2O is a greenhouse gas. The greatest share of human emissions of nitrous oxide come from agriculture (inorganic fertilizer and manure), and from the burning of gas and oil in combustion engines.
Renewable energy: Energy production based on sources of energy that do not run out, for example wind, water and solar power.
Weather: Atmospheric condition at any given time or place. In most places, weather can change at any moment.
Global warming vs. Climate Change
Although the two terms are used interchangeably, global warming refers to rising temperatures on the planet, whereas climate change refers to a broader scope of changes to the weather and temperature of the planet. Both climate change and global warming can come from natural or human causes. However, global warming tends to refer to the human activities that contribute to exacerbated global warming, and climate change is a more general term. Source: EPA
Climate vs. Weather
According to the EPA., the simplest way of remembering the difference between the terms climate and weather is that "climate" is what you expect from a region (cold winters), and "weather" is what you get (a blizzard).
Sources: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Pew Center on Global Climate Change