In recent decades, issues of climate change and global warming have become a pressing matter for scientists and an important talking point for politicians and business leaders. In some cases the two terms are used interchangeably. However, there are a number of distinctions that can be made between climate change and global warming.
Global warming, as one might expect, involves the continued increase of the planet's annual average temperature. For example, the 1990s saw an average global temperature of about 57.76 degrees Fahrenheit, a figure that rose to 58.12 degrees for the years 2000 to 2009. July of 2016, meanwhile, was the hottest month in recorded history, while 2016 set a new record for warmest overall year, the third record-breaking year in a row.
However, as the average temperature of the earth rises, more localized and regional results may in fact include colder temperatures, changes in wind and precipitation patterns, and the lengthening or shortening of the seasons. These changes are collectively referred to as climate change. Though directly linked to overall planetary warming, climate change can involve diverse and widespread effects. For example, climate change can lead to the increased strength and frequency of weather events like hurricanes, major storms, and prolonged dry spells.