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Climate Change in English – A guide

If you have been paying even the most cursory attention to the news lately, you would have heard about COP 26 and how it is a make-or-break event for the earth and our climate. You may find the whole thing confusing and even rather annoying. Relax! You are not alone. As a closet environmentalist myself, I find it challenging navigating the maze of terms, topics, policies, and geo-politics. I then realized that I must educate my readers on the key terms that would be used at this conference so that they can follow. I promise to be as untechnical as I can.

1) Climate


Climate can be described as the weather conditions prevailing in a specific area in general and over a long period of time.

Not to be confused with: Weather- “The state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time as regards heat, cloudiness, dryness, sunshine, wind, rain, etc.”

Usage: What is the weather like in Delhi today? It is pretty cold down here in Manila

Key term: The main difference is that the weather is

2) Drought


A drought is an event of prolonged shortages in the water supply, whether atmospheric (below-average precipitation), surface water or ground water.

3) Greenhouse gas


A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range, causing the greenhouse effect.[1] The primary greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere are water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and ozone (O3). One bit of trivia for you “Without greenhouse gases, the average temperature of Earth’s surface would be about −18 °C (0 °F),[2] rather than the present average of 15 °C (59 °F).[3][4][5] The atmospheres of Venus, Mars and Titan also contain greenhouse gases.”


The most abundant greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere, listed in decreasing order of average global mole fraction, are:[13][14]

4) Environment

According to Collins’s dictionary your environment consists of the particular natural surroundings in which you live or exist, considered in relation to their physical characteristics or weather conditions.

Not to be confused with: Surrounding- the things, conditions, influences, etc. that surround a given place or person;

Just for clarity, I have listed examples of the usage below.

The naval base covers a vast area surrounding the rain forest

My sole aim is to promote activities to reduce the impact of pesticides o the environment.

5) Global warming

Marriam-webster describes global warming as “an increase in the earth’s atmospheric and oceanic temperatures widely predicted to occur due to an increase in the greenhouse effect resulting especially from pollution”

Not to be confused with: Climate change– which is the “a long-term change in the earth’s climate, especially a change due to an increase in the average atmospheric temperature”

Hence while climate change is the symptom, global warming is the disease.

6) Sea level rise


The level of the surface of the sea especially at its mean position midway between mean high and low water

Now, one of the things you are likely to have heard in the climate debate is that sea level rise is causing flooding around the world. Why is that? This article aptly summarises the it. I believe you will find it useful.

7) Paris Agreement

Before COP 26, there was COP 21 which gave us the Paris climate agreement.

According to the UNFCCC “The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.

Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”

So that’s your lot for today, I hope you learned something from today’s article. We will all continue to tune in to the COP 26 proceedings and hope that they deliver on their promise to reduce global temperatures.

If you like this article, I have got several others like it on topical issues such as COVID 19 and others. Share it if you found it useful.

Till next time


  1. Sea level rise, facts and information (nationalgeographic.com)
  2. The Paris Agreement | UNFCCC
  3. Sea Level | Definition of Sea Level by Merriam-Webster
  4. Climate change Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com
  5. COVID in English

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