Sunday, September 27, 2009

Definition of Global Warming Word-by-Word

The best concise definition I found on the web of ‘global warming’ describes it to be a noun, with the meaning “An increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, especially a sustained increase sufficient to cause climatic change.” (
First note that the two words “global warming” used together are considered a noun.  This is important because from this info we understand that “global warming” is some ‘thing’.  A ‘something’ that is probably a phenomenon indicating an increased temperature of the earth’s air.  Not of our hometown or region or country but the “globe” or the sphere that is our planet earth.
Next notice the phrase “An increase in the average temperature” and think about what that might mean in general.  When your local weather forecaster says the ‘average temperature of this month’s daily winter temperatures recorded at noon,” we can understand that every daily temperature of the month which was recorded at twelve o’clock noon
(1)  Has been added together and the (2) sum is divided by the number of days in the month.
Let’s take the month of December, having 31 days, 31 recorded temperatures have been added together, and their sum divided by 31 to come up with one number: the average.
The average temperature is not the mean average temperature.  The mean average temperature refers to the temperature taken at noon on December 16th.  The mean average temperature is important but it is not the data point described in the global warming definition.  The two numbers (average temp and mean average temp) may vary significantly so the difference between the two can be quite important when trying to understand atmospheric temperatures.
When we come to “climatic change” in the definition it is preceded by the word “cause” so we can expect that if there is a cause there is an effect.  Viola!
The phenomena termed global warming is the average of temperatures recorded around the earth (in the atmosphere above both land and sea) which under the right circumstances will cause a shift in climate (climate change).

Gale E. Christianson's book, "Greenhouse  The 200 year story of Global Warming" is a great resource for people trying to understand global warming, historians, students and their professors.

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