Global Warming versus Climate Change

What’s the difference ? Why is Global Warming not the same as Climate Change ? And why do we call Global Warming “anthropogenic” ? How do we know recent Global Warming is caused by mankind’s activities ?

So, what is Global Warming ?

1. Carbon Dioxide is a Greenhouse Gas

Without Carbon Dioxide and other Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere (air), the temperature at the Earth’s surface would be something like 30 degrees Celsius colder than it is now.

This is a well-established fact, about which there there is no dispute. Well, OK, some people dispute it, but the fact that they dispute it does not alter the data.

It’s also a well-established old fact : the original science about the Greenhouse Effect was done over 100 years ago :-

http://www.aip.org/history/climate/
http://www.aip.org/history/climate/summary.htm

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Let’s Do Some Science Communication

Imagine, if you will, that we can peer deep into a solid object, and looking very, very closely, smaller than the eye can actually see, we can begin to make out the internal structure of that object, and zooming even closer in, we find what appear to be the smallest things that make up this object.

Let’s call these things ATOMS.

That’s a bit of Ancient Greek (or Jain) philosophy, the theory of the atomisation of matter, the idea that there are small things that make up large things, and that these small things cannot be made any smaller. This is a fantastic theory, as it explains a lot of things that happen around us. In several thousand years, nobody has seriously been able to challenge this theory; however, it has undergone continuous refinement.

Besides ordinary solid objects there are also things that you can’t hold in your hands; things like light and heat and the little electric shocks you get when you comb really dry hair.

Heat appears to be what happens to ordinary solid objects when the tiny atomic parts are moving wider or further or faster. Most things expand but stay holding together when they get hotter, which confirms this idea. There are special cases, like water, which expands as it freezes, but that can be explained by thinking about how atoms move in relation to each other…

Anyway, back to light.

Light is a different matter altogether. It appears to be able to pass through some objects without changing radically. It travels very long distances without being stopped. It seems to cause ordinary matter to heat up. It doesn’t rest anywhere.

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