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"Climate Change," "Global Warming," or "The Greenhouse Effect"?

Although the media often refer to "Global Warming," a more appropriate term is "Global Climate Change." Why does it matter, and what is the difference?

"Global Warming" suggests that Earth's climate is warming up around the world. The world is getting warmer on average, but that is only one piece of the puzzle. Factors such as precipitation and evaporation are also changing, and changes in one region often affect climatic patterns elsewhere in the world. "Global Climate Change" is descriptive of broader climate factors than just temperature, and is thus a more appropriate term.

The term "Greenhouse Effect" compares the insulating properties of Earth's atmosphere to a greenhouse. While this can be a helpful model, Earth's atmosphere is much more complex than a greenhouse. We will discuss this further in Lesson 3.

Congratulations! You have now completed Lesson 1. Move on to Lesson 2 for a more in-depth look at climate change data.