Climate change is a problem that has been the topic of discussion over the last several years. It is an issue that has dominated the news, science classrooms, and dinner tables. Before investigating further into climate change, the question that needs answering is: what is it? To put it simply, climate change is “a change in global or regional climate patterns.” This change in climate patterns is caused by an increase in the temperature of the atmosphere. Furthermore, the warm atmosphere causes the Earth to become warmer, therefore creating many negative changes to the way the Earth and humanity functions.
The causes of climate change may sound complicated, but in truth they are actually quite simple. The sun’s rays enter the atmosphere, warm the Earth’s surface, and send outgoing heat back into space. Because of our excess greenhouse gases, most of the heat that is supposed to be released back toward’s space is instead absorbed. This is what causes the surface of the Earth to become warmer. It is widely believed by scientists that the cause of the excess greenhouse gases is human activity. According to climate.nasa.gov, “the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [a large group of scientific experts]…concluded there’s more than a 90 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet.” A few human activities that affect climate change include: burning fossil fuels for energy and removing forests for human use. So, while other factors do contribute to climate change, human activity is the main cause.
Climate change affects us and our planet significantly. Some of these negative effects have already started to show. Some of the effects are: “loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves” (climate.nasa.gov). The acceleration of sea level rise can be very counteractive to slowing down the effects of climate change. This is because the more water there is, the more heat is absorbed by the sun’s radiation, causing more heat to be trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere. However, this change in climate will not end soon. Scientists predict this change will continue for a long time. Due to climate change, hurricanes will become stronger and faster in the North Atlantic. Nevertheless, one of the most devastating effects of climate change, may be the melting of glaciers in the arctic. Because the arctic sea is melting so quickly, the entire arctic ecosystem will be affected (polarbearsinternational.org). It is clear something needs to be done about climate change, or else the effects will only get worse.
One of the most important questions we can ask is what can we, as individuals, do to help stop these devastating changes? Here is a brief list of simple steps you can take to help:
1) Pay attention to your water usage: With all of the energy it takes to produce water, being careful about how efficiently you use it is important.
– Turn off the water when you brush your teeth
– Repair all leaks (sinks and toilets) as fast as possible
– Only run your dishwasher if you have a full load of dishes
2) Replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs
3) Buy food and other products that have recyclable material