With all the noise out there, we’ve sorted through the more important information you can have to fully understand, and be able to explain what exactly is climate change?
To understand climate change we must first define global warming, which refers to the gradual warming of the planet observed since the pre-industrial period. Human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels increase the presence of heat-trapping greenhouse gas (GHG) levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. Since the early 20th century data shows worldwide the average surface temperature has risen about 2ºF.
Climate change is a broad term used to describe the long-term change in global or regional climate patterns. Largely the consequence of global warming, climate change includes everything from the increasing incidence of extreme weather events such as devastating hurricanes and severe drought, to frequent flooding along with more intense and longer lasting heat waves.
Greenhouse gas emissions are produced by human activities from burning fossil fuels, like coal, oil, and natural gas, for electricity, heat, and transportation. Carbon pollution enters the atmosphere where it acts like a blanket around the Earth, trapping energy and causing it to warm.
In the past century, the Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.5ºF and is projected to rise another 0.5ºF to 8.6ºF over the next hundred years. The effects of climate change have long been predicted by scientists and we are now witnessing the results, including loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise, ocean acidification, and stronger hurricanes.
There are many options available to help mitigate the risks we will face from climate change by reducing emissions through the implementation of policy, which includes putting a price on carbon. Placing focus on sustainable infrastructure by building low-carbon, resilient cities and careful planning of transportation as well as land use will lead to the development of greener cities. Improvements in energy efficiency and increased use of renewable energy are crucial to reducing carbon emissions.