Climate Change 101: The Basics

Climate Change

Climate change is a very important subject and it is one that is hard to avoid. Everyone is talking about it and expecting more to be done, but many people do not understand what causes it.

Almost everything on Earth is affected by global warming and it is only getting worse as humanity grows. Rising sea levels, wildfires, wildlife habitat destruction, and much more are all caused by climate change, but what exactly is it?

What Is Climate Change

Climate change is the long-term change in the global temperature and weather patterns. The Earth has been around for millions of years and compared to the beginning, the planet’s temperature has changed significantly.

However, in recent years, the term climate change has referred to the effects of global warming on the planet caused by human activity.

How Does It Work

Greenhouse Gases

The big question still hasn’t been answered, what causes climate change? The greenhouse effect is the culprit. Normally, the air we breath consists mostly of oxygen and nitrogen which make up 99% of it, while very small traces of other gases can be found.

These gases do not absorb heat, which allows any heat from the sun to be reflected back from the Earth’s surface. The other gases that can be found in the air are known as greenhouse gases, which include carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gases do absorb heat which prevents all of it from being reflected.

The Greenhouse effect is naturally occurring. Without it, the Earth’s temperature would be much colder than it currently is, 0F (-18C). However, this natural process has become unbalanced as more greenhouse gases are released into the air. More heat is being absorbed by these gases, which in turn, warms the earth further.

The increase of greenhouse gases dates back to the times of the industrial revolution. Big businesses would release astronomic amounts of gases into the air. Even with the knowledge we have today, greenhouse gases are still being emitted into the air.

The Impact of Climate Change

Anyone familiar with climate change basics is aware of rising sea levels, polar habitat destruction, wildfires and more. They are also aware of the things that cause them like car emissions, deforestation, burning coal, eating red meats and more. The impact of climate change is on a global scale.

When looking into the future to the end of the century, it is expected that the global temperature will rise between 3 to 5 degrees Celsius. If this happens, the rising sea levels will reach heights that will cover entire coastal cities.

The water will also warm, which will kill millions of fish and other marine wildlife that are highly dependent on water temperatures.

Plants will not be spared either, which will have a direct effect on animal and human food sources.

With this knowledge in mind, countries from around the world signed the Paris Agreement in hopes of reaching zero emissions in the future, with a goal of preventing the temperature rise to exceed 1.5C at the end of the century.

Can It Be Prevented

Climate change is completely preventable, but it is challenging. Some of these challenges include the expense of producing electric cars to reduce emissions. However, you can also drive less, carpool and use public transportation to reduce the impact.

My point is money is a major factor when it comes to “going green.” Things like zero-emission tech is expensive to develop, and these costs are often passed down to consumers.  Over time, costs will improve. But immediate action against climate change is required.

“We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.” – President Obama

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