If you’ve paid attention to the news over the past few years, you’ve heard of climate change. However, the issue of climate change is immense and can feel overwhelming to people who don’t have a background in science. To clear up the confusion, we’ve put together this list of answers to questions you might have about climate change.
What is climate change?
Climate change is the term used to refer to changes in the Earth’s climate. It manifests as a change in the temperature of Earth itself, as well as in changing weather patterns in locations around the globe. Unlike day-to-day variations in weather, climate change refers to lasting changes in the usual weather of a region.
Climate change is a growing concern because global warming is happening faster than ever before. Evidence shows that the 30-year period from 1983 to 2012 was the warmest in the last 800 years.
Is there a difference between global warming and climate change?
Global warming refers to the rising surface temperature on Earth, and it’s a symptom of climate change. While global warming only refers to the rising temperatures, climate change includes global warming and all its side effects, like melting glaciers and droughts.
What causes climate change?
Climate change happens when heat becomes trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. When the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere becomes too high, the Sun’s heat can’t escape and is instead absorbed by the Earth. Known as the greenhouse effect, this causes the Earth to grow warmer.
While the Earth’s climate can change due to factors outside of human control, like volcanic eruptions and changes in solar energy, human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases have sped up the rate of climate change. In fact, scientists have stated with 95 percent certainty that the current rate of climate change is the direct result of human activity.
What are greenhouse gases?
Greenhouse gases are certain naturally-occurring gases that trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere. While these gases aren’t problematic in normal amounts, many industries emit a large amount of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. This is often referred to as emissions. Some of the biggest contributors to man-made emissions are the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Of all the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide has the greatest impact on global warming.
Can climate change be stopped?
Studies suggest that the climate change the Earth has already experienced is irreversible. As excess carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere due to human activity, the ocean absorbs some of the carbon dioxide. Over time, the oceans will release that carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, where it will continue to contribute to global warming.
While climate change can’t be reversed, it can be slowed down. By reducing reliance on fossil fuels, focusing on energy efficiency, overhauling industrial agricultural practices, and replanting forests, it’s possible to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere. This article explains why energy efficiency is so important.
What does climate change mean for me?
While no one knows how much impact climate change will have, there’s already evidence of climate change affecting the lives of everyday people. Rising temperatures on Earth are increasing the frequency and intensity of natural disasters like floods, tornadoes, and droughts, which put people in danger and affect livelihoods.
However, not every location will experience the same effects from climate change. Inland areas may see increased drought and hotter summers, while coastal regions can expect more flooding from storms and rising sea levels. Depending on where you live, you may even feel like the weather is improving due to milder winters and extended agricultural growing seasons. However, since populations are growing fastest in vulnerable coastal areas, you or your loved ones could experience less desirable change. And even small changes in weather can disrupt crop production and affect the nation’s food supply.
Climate change is a big issue facing the world today, and it deserves your attention. Take action and learn what you can do in the fight against climate change.
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