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Climate or environment?

Climate and environment are often talked about as if they were one and the same concept, but the meanings behind these terms differ. Nonetheless, the two are tightly woven together.

Climate describes the conditions at a given location. This is connected to weather but is used to describe general trends over a longer period of time, rather than a short period, as is the case with weather reports. Climate includes things like temperature, amount of precipitation, frequency of extreme weather conditions and more.

On the other hand, environment describes a much larger picture, and is a collection of all possible conditions that exist in a given place. This can include climate, topography, biodiversity, how it is to live a certain place, and anything else that is included in the surroundings. Thus, climate is a part of the environment, and climate contributes to creating environment.

It's important to remember that the climate changes our planet is facing affect the various environments, and the same is true in reverse. Higher global temperatures lead, for example, to fresh water sources drying out which leads to a loss of biodiversity. These changes were set in motion because of the climate, but also include and impact the entire environment.

In this way, we see that we cannot separate these two phenomena from each other, as they go interconnectedly hand in hand. Thus, the solutions we develop must take consideration to both the climate and the environment, in a holistic perspective.

The interaction between climate and environment is an active consideration in many of today's technological solutions, for example floating wind power. Wind power at sea is a promising technology that can help the world reach its energy demands, without leading to sky-high carbon emissions. This type of renewable energy is good for the climate, but big wind power installations at sea can also impact various environmental factors, such as biodiversity and the fishing industry to name a couple. Which effects this climate-related solution will have on the environment is therefore a question that must be taken into consideration.

This is one of the many questions that make up the core of SINTEF's research. Technology for a better society isn't just about protecting the climate, but also about protecting the environment. In this way, holistic thinking leads to holistic solutions, and a holistic protection of our planet.

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