What is the difference between Climate and Weather?

Weather is the state of the atmosphere in a given place and time that forecasters predict daily. Climate refers to average weather patterns in a specific region over many years. Although weather can vary greatly on a day-to-day basis, climate remains relatively stable over many years. Through thousands of years of evidence, scientists have determined that climate typically changes gradually (unless there is a cataclysmic event such as a volcanic eruption or meteoric impact). Seemingly small changes in climate can have major impacts on all facets of life on Earth.

What does Global Warming have to do with Climate Change?

Global warming causes climate change. As the Earth's average global temperature increases, many climatic elements are also altered: the length of our seasons is changing (see: http://epa.gov/climatechange/science/indicators/society-eco/growing-season.html), ocean levels are rising, and our weather is becoming less predictable. Because of this warming trend, our climate is becoming less stable—it is changing.

Why should we be worried about a temperature increase of only a few degrees?

It might seem like it would be nice if our average temperature went up a few degrees; however, this is not as simple as it sounds. Think about how much energy is required to heat up the entire Earth's atmosphere by one degree Celsius… It's A LOT! Adding this much heat to our Earth's surface will have serious repercussions: sea levels rising due to glacier and ice melt, oceanic acidification, less fresh water, seasons and habitats shifting or disappearing altogether, and extreme weather including flooding, droughts, and storms.

Are extreme weather events related to Climate Change?

More extreme and erratic weather events are being reported around the globe. Devastating floods, severe droughts, hurricanes, snowstorms and heat waves are occurring more frequently and with greater intensity than in the last 100 years. While extreme weather has always occurred, scientists are raising their concerns that the increase in severity and frequency can be attributed to climate change. It is agreed that a warmer atmosphere contains more energy and holds more moisture, and thus is more likely to experience extreme weather events.

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If I save water and energy can I really make a difference?

The short answer is yes. If everyone were to adhere to sprinkling restrictions, install low flow taps, showers and toilets, use efficient appliances, change their light bulbs, wear warmer clothing instead of turning up heaters, and do countless other small home improvements to save water and energy, we would see improvement in our overall energy and water consumption. The longer answer is that if we really want to drastically reduce our human ecological footprint we must not only make changes on an individual basis, but also as a species. Investing in renewable and sustainable resources and energy sources, improving public transit, and making energy and water wise appliances and cars more accessible to the world are just a few of many improvements we can hope for in the near future.