WHAT’S the difference between weather and climate?
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), weather is the way the atmosphere is behaving for a short period of time (minutes, hours, days or months).
We think of weather in terms of sunshine, rain, cloud cover, winds, hail, snow, sleet, freezing rain, flooding, blizzards, ice storms, thunderstorms, steady rains from a cold front or warm front, excessive heat, heat waves, high pressure, low pressure and more1.
Climate, on the other hand, is the description of a long-term pattern of weather in a particular region, usually taken over 30 years.
When scientists talk about climate, they're looking at averages of precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine, wind velocity, phenomena such as fog, frost, and hail storms, and other measures of the weather that occur over a long period in a particular place2.
Climate change, therefore, are decades of studies by scientists on the changes in weather patterns.
Climate change and global warming are often used interchangeably, perhaps, due to the fact that the change in climate nowadays is going toward warmer temperature, hotter summer, shorter winter and extreme weather shifts.
The sad thing is that researches and studies have shown that climate change is brought about by anthropogenic forces i.e. human activities3.
Air pollution is the main culprit in the change of climate that we are experiencing now. It comes from the emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from the burning of fossil fuels and industrial manufacturing processes4. According to studies, the household use of solid fuels for cooking and heating also contributes to air pollution. Greenhouse gases are not good because they trap heat, and as their concentration in the atmosphere increases, so does the temperature5.
If global warming continues, there will be longer hot days and fewer cold days, sealevels will increase due to the melting of glaciers and could result to the drowning of smaller islands, oceans will be hot and acidic for marine life resulting to the extinction of more species, and health will become very vulnerable6.
But there is hope for planet Earth. Big steps have been made by nations all over the globe. But ordinary people can have their own small steps starting from their own space such as not burning garbage, reduction of use of industrial materials, advocating for vegetation and more trees and adhering to laws that promote better and greener environment.
It is not enough to know facts about climate change – knowing should and must lead to doing.