Global warming refers only to the Earth’s rising surface temperature, while climate change includes warming and the “side effects” of warming—like melting glaciers, heavier rainstorms, or more frequent drought. Said another way, global warming is one symptom of the much larger problem of human-caused climate change.
Global warming is just one symptom of the much larger problem of climate change. NOAA Climate.gov cartoon by Emily Greenhalgh.
Another distinction between global warming and climate change is that when scientists or public leaders talk about global warming these days, they almost always mean human-caused warming—warming due to the rapid increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from people burning coal, oil, and gas.
Climate change, on the other hand, can