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Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns. In public discourse, often used as a shorthand for the effects of anthropogenic global warming.

Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. Climate change may be limited to a specific region or may occur across the whole Earth.

The term sometimes is used to refer specifically to climate change caused by human activity, as opposed to changes in climate that may have resulted as part of Earth's natural processes. In this latter sense, used especially in the context of environmental policy, the term climate change today is synonymous with anthropogenic global warming. Within scientific journals, however, global warming refers to surface temperature increases, while climate change includes global warming and everything else that increasing greenhouse gas amounts will affect.

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