Although the terms “climate change” and “global warming” are often used interchangeably, they have very different meanings. NASA describes the difference as, “Global warming is the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities. Climate change is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates.” The consequences of global warming regionally can include drought in the southwest, ocean acidification impacting marine flora and fauna on the coasts, wildfires, and heat waves that affect food sources. 

Furthermore, ocean acidification occurs as a result of increased carbon emissions stemming from the industrial revolution. The ocean absorbs about 1/3rd of the carbon dioxide that humans put into the air, the rest by soils and vegetation, the rest remains in the atmosphere. “Much of the extra dissolved carbon is in the ocean’s upper few thousand feet. However, at high latitudes, surface water quickly cools, becomes saltier and denser and sinks, carrying the dissolved carbon to some of the deepest parts of the ocean. Mix carbon dioxide with water and the result is carbonic acid. After that first simple chemical reaction comes a slightly more complicated series of changes in seawater chemistry. The final outcome is a lowering of the ocean’s pH — meaning the ocean is more acidic.” explains Rosemary Sullivant, a contributor to NASA. Long term, the worry is the saturation and how this will affect sea life.

How can we see the proof here in Utah? We can worry about more heat which means less snowfall, in turn meaning drought, prolonged wildfires, and increased pollution. This is especially important in the valley, pollution is the cause of many health concerns and could affect our food, water, and enviornment overall. Our community is heavily reliant on our winter season to clear out the smog, bring in water, and support our economy. 

Citations

Gonzalez, P., G.M. Garfin, D.D. Breshears, K.M. Brooks, H.E. Brown, E.H. Elias, A. Gunasekara, N. Huntly, J.K. Maldonado, N.J. Mantua, H.G. Margolis, S. McAfee, B.R. Middleton, and B.H. Udall, 2018: Southwest. In Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II[Reidmiller, D.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, K.L.M. Lewis, T.K. Maycock, and B.C. Stewart (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 1101–1184. doi: 10.7930/NCA4.2018.CH25

IPCC 2007, Summary for Policymakers, in Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, p. 17.IPCC, 2013: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA., https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/, https://climate.nasa.gov/resources/global-warming-vs-climate-change/, https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/climate_acidocean.html, https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/chapter/25/

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