What is climate change?
Climate change, also know as global warming, refers to the intense rise in average surface temperatures on Earth. Climate change is primarily due to the human use of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and many other greenhouse gases into the air. These gases trap heat within the earths atmosphere, which can have a wide range of effects on ecosystems, including rising sea levels, increased severe weather events, and droughts that render landscapes barren and more susceptible to wildfires.
What are the causes of climate change?
The primary cause of climate change is mankind’s burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, natural gas and coal, which emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, most devastatingly- carbon dioxide. Other human activities, such as agriculture and deforestation, also add to the mass of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
Today, the CO2 level is at about 400 ppm, a level not reached in more than 400,000 years. While small amounts of these gases are a naturally occurring and act as a critical part of Earth’s temperature control system, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 did not rise above 300 parts per million between the advent of human civilization roughly 10,000 years ago up to the year 1900.
What are the effects of climate change?
Even relatively small increases in Earth’s temperature caused by climate change can have very severe effects. The earth’s average temperature has gone up over 1.4° F in just the past century and is expected to rise as much as 11.5° F over the next 100 years. That might not seem much, but the average temperature during the last Ice Age was about 4º F lower than it is now.
Rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice caps contribute to earthquakes and greater storm damage. Rapidly warming ocean temperatures are implicated in stronger and more frequent storms and heavier rainfall, particularly during severe weather events, leading to flooding and other damage. On the flip side, an increase in the incidence and severity of wildfires threatens food production, habitats, homes, and lives; and heat waves contribute to human deaths. Climate Change is also the leading factor contributing to global Food Shortages and Water Shortages.
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