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The Basics of Climate Science: What is Climate Change, and Why Should we Care about it?
What is climate change, and why should we care about it?
This blog is a plain-language attempt at explaining the basics of climate science. But we need to keep in mind that this is not an environmental or scientific issue. Climate change is an issue of basic human rights. Climate change is already responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 people a year according to the World Health Organization. More than 80 per cent of these people dying are children under five. We need to keep these facts in mind when we talk about climate change and its solutions.
Climate vs. Weather
It’s time to learn a little bit of science, but before we talk about climate science we need to be clear on what we mean by “climate.” The word “climate” refers to long-term patterns of weather, and this is very different from weather as we normally talk about it. The weather can change hour-to-hour, day-to-day and year-to-year, but changes in climate can only be measured over periods of decades.
Climate science is about averages, and weather data spanning at least 30 years is needed to accurately determine changes in climate (this could be data on average or seasonal temperature, average or seasonal rainfall, etc.). Just because this summer is warmer than last summer doesn’t mean the climate has changed, but if the average summer temperature from 1980 to 2010 is warmer than the average summer temperature from 1950 to 1980, this is an indicator of climate change.