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What is the importance of the global warming definition? In the present political climate it can mean everything. The thing is that global warming is a complex phenomenon with many effects on the Earth’s various climates. Unless the average person on the street has done some basic research on the topic it is easy to get confused about what it really means. Global warming deals with an increase in the Earth’s average surface temperature but it affects one of the most complex systems on the planet, regional climates and the atmosphere. Just because the Earth overall get warmer does not mean everywhere on earth becomes like southern California.
The debate of global warming has lead for a new term to be used, “climate change.” This is because it better describes what happens when the average surface temperature of our planet increases. It adds energy to the systems that produces weather patterns and climates. For some places it means they get warmer and become more arid. Others experience harsher winters because shifts in the ocean currents that keep them warm. Other locales are becoming submerged as the polar ice caps raise the average sea level.
However the definition of global warming can be twisted for political ends. Scientists who are trying to prompt their governments to action now have to deal with global warming deniers and false scandals concerning the validity of data. This is just making understanding of a vital issue to humanity and the planet that much more difficult to solve. That is why it important for people to know what global warming is and how it affects them personally. Otherwise people will just say the next time a major blizzard comes, “so much for global warming”
The consequences of inaction can be serious. In Africa countries that were already barely maintaining a balance with the climate to produce food are experience drought and famine and importing more food from other countries. Island nations are losing more land. Northern countries are starting to colder winters and seasons overall that could disrupt food production and other important industries. An uninformed public will not only fail to put the public pressure needed for real solutions to be found but also fall for misinformation.
We’ve also recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast all about planet Earth. Listen here, Episode 51: Earth.