What is Global Warming?

Global warming, climate change and the greenhouse effect. Concepts that in recent years have gained greater prominence and presence in all areas. What does each one of them mean and how does it affect us?

What is Global Warming?
Greenhouse effect

To understand global warming and climate change, it is necessary to start by defining the greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect is a phenomenon in which heat radiation from the planet's surface is absorbed by gases in the atmosphere, and is emitted again in all directions.

Specifically, sunlight that is absorbed by the Earth's surface returns to the atmosphere as heat. There, greenhouse gases (GHG) retain part of this heat; the rest escapes into space. It should be mentioned that the more greenhouse gases, the more heat is retained.

Due to this operation of allowing the passage of light and keeping the heat, like the walls of a greenhouse, is that it takes that name. The greenhouse effect is what makes life on Earth possible.

Greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases are the most efficient at absorbing heat, such as carbon dioxide (CO2). However, an increase in these is harmful to the planet and to all life on it.

Global warming

Since CO2 is the gas that increased its emissions the most since the industrial revolution, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels caused by human activity, global warming occurs: an increase in the temperature of the atmosphere and the oceans.

The increase in carbon dioxide emissions, caused by human activities, is one of the main causes of climate change

It should be noted that the greatest increase was recorded during the last 30 years. Global warming is one of the most visible impacts of climate change.

Climate change

For its part, climate change is the set of climatic changes. That is, it is a significant and lasting change in the distribution of weather patterns. It can be explained locally or globally.

Some clarifications

Climate change can be due to natural or anthropogenic causes. In the first case, the variations may be due to changes in the energy received from the sun, to volcanic eruptions, among others.

In the second case, by the influence of the human being. It includes the aforementioned CO2 emission and also the alteration of large areas of soil (deforestation).

It is important to mention that without human interference, carbon from fossil fuels would be released into the atmosphere, but slowly, by volcanic activity. However, the process is accelerated by burning carbon, oil and natural gas.

The NASA same admitted, years ago, that the planet is undergoing a heating process, although fluctuations in temperature are part of natural cycles, GHG emissions produced by human activity accelerate the course.


This accelerated increase in temperature affects the cycles that take place on the planet. Even small variations cause major changes.

For example, the accumulation of carbon dioxide that causes ocean acidification affects biodiversity (growth, reproduction and other phenomena). In fact, in a recent study it was reported that less oxygen in the seas would cause less biodiversity.

Sea level rise is one of the consequences of climate change

Likewise, the rise in sea level due to thawing and the reduction of icy masses threaten coastal areas.

Another notable effect is extreme weather events.

International agreements

Various international meetings are taking place in order to establish agreements and commitments of the countries to reduce CO2 emissions.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was one of the three conventions that were adopted at the Earth Summit in 1992. It is the main international agreement that aims to act on climate.

In particular, to limit the increase in global temperature, and to face climate change and its consequences.

According to the European Council, two main issues are discussed here: 1) ratification of the Kyoto Protocol 2) Paris Agreement. The first, approved in 1997, involves developed countries and introduces objectives linked to the reduction of emissions from these countries.

For its part, in 2015 the World Conference on Climate Change or COP XXI was held in Paris. During this event, the problems related to Climate Change were recognized, as well as the need to take urgent measures.

The Paris Agreement, which emerged at this Conference, commits the parties to take financial, geopolitical, energy and social measures. 

The purpose, specifically, is to reduce CO2 emissions and unify and maintain efforts to keep the increase in temperature below 2 °. Finally, in September of this year there will be the Summit on Climate Change.

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