🌍 A changing climate

Monday marks the 54th annual Earth Day, a day meant to encourage environmentalism, sustainability and climate action. To celebrate, we’re digging a little deeper on the terms climate change and global warming.

The terms are often used interchangeably, but global warming is only one aspect of climate change. Global warming is exactly what it sounds like: The temperature of the Earth as a whole is on the rise. But this temperature rise ​doesn’t happen equally​ everywhere, with temperatures rising in some places while they fall in others. Even though these temperature changes are caused by global warming, the term “climate change” might be less confusing since temperatures drop in certain locations.

And while global warming is a factor of the changing climate, “​climate change​” is a more overarching term that refers to a broader range of changes to the planet, including sea-level rise, shrinking glaciers and longer heat waves.

And if “climate change” doesn’t sound serious enough, there’s also climate crisis or climate emergency, which are used to convey a greater sense of urgency about the situation.

You can use the terms "climate change" and "global warming" interchangeably, though "climate change" includes a wider array of the effects of human actions on the environment. Some opt for the term "climate crisis" to better convey the gravity of the situation. While some people continue to deny the effects of climate change, they are not up for debate in the reputable scientific community. In other words, climate change is not a "two sides" story, so put comments from politicians and other prominent figures in the proper context. Always make sure your audience knows the scientific consensus, instead of just various opinions on the issue.

Whatever term you use, just be sure to get your facts right. Scientifically accurate reporting on climate change can help readers understand that our environment is under threat and encourage them to support climate action, according to a ​study from The Ohio State University​.

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