Understanding climate change is more important than ever as we are seeing radical negative environmental changes globally. These changes are impacting the health of our planet leading to animals losing habitat and essential vegetation dying. Climate change is 100% real and it is bad. Really bad. The good news is we can do something about it!
Understanding Climate Change – What is it?
Climate change defined by according to U.S. Geological Survey, “Climate change refers to the increasing changes in the measures of climate over a long period of time – including precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns.” Yes it is real. There is absolutely no way of denying that it and it is very serious.
Are Climate Change and Global Warming the Same?
No they are not the same. Global warming is an effect of climate change, but climate change is much is a much more encompassing term of all changes in weather patterns that can be detected.
Evidence of Climate Change
The evidence to support climate change is unequivocal. According to NASA, below is undeniable evidence of climate change:
- The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century
- Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years
- The top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of the ocean have warmed more than 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
- The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass – losing an average of 286 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016, while Antarctica lost about 127 billion tons of ice per year during the same time period.
- Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.
- Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.
- Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century and is accelerating slightly every year.
- Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades.
- US record high temperature events in the United States have been increasing while low temperature events are decreasing.
- The U.S. has witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.
- The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.
Effects of Climate Change
Climate change is real and it is predicted to continue to get worse, not better. Again, according to NASA the effects we can expect to see from climate change include;
- Global temperatures continue to increase and it will not be uniform – meaning it is unpredictable
- Increases of a month or more in the lengths of the frost-free and growing seasons are projected across most of the U.S. by the end of the century. This has extreme impacts on our ecological and agricultural systems.
- Increased precipitation – Projections of future climate over the U.S. suggest that the recent trend towards increased heavy precipitation events will continue.
- Increased droughts and heat waves everywhere are projected to become more intense, and cold waves less intense everywhere.
- Hurricanes will become stronger and more intense
- Sea Level Will Rise 1-8 feet by 2100
- Arctic Likely to Become Ice-Free
Climate Change – What is Causing it?
The majority of climate changes is being caused by carbon dioxide emission. According to the Environmental Protection Agency the primary sources of these emissions are:
- Transportation (28.2 percent of 2018 greenhouse gas emissions) – The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Electricity production (26.9 percent of 2018 greenhouse gas emissions) – Approximately 63 percent of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.
- Industry (22.0 percent of 2018 greenhouse gas emissions) – Greenhouse gas emissions from industry primarily come from burning fossil fuels for energy, as well as greenhouse gas emissions from certain chemical reactions necessary to produce goods from raw materials.
- Commercial and Residential (12.3 percent of 2018 greenhouse gas emissions)
- Agriculture (9.9 percent of 2018 greenhouse gas emissions) – Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from livestock such as cows, agricultural soils, and rice production.
- Land Use and Forestry (11.6 percent of 2018 greenhouse gas emissions) – In the United States, since 1990, managed forests and other lands are a net sink, i.e. they have absorbed more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit.
How Can We Stop It?
So glad you asked! We have the power to reverse some of the damage we have done and decrease the amount of future damage to our planet.
- Be Mindful of Your Diet – Buying local and from small farmers will help to decrease the amount of products being produced by large manufactory farms that cause green house gas emissions. You can also choose to simply stop eating animal products.
- Travel Less – Do your part and limit your travel. This includes daily car trips to flying across the globe.
- Go Second Hand – Avoid buying anything new. Shop your local thrift store for everything! Did you know a lot of thrift stores get items like shampoo and other personal items from larger companies that they then sell at a discounted price?! It’s good for the environment and your wallet! Score!
- Cut Home Energy Use – Turn off lights when not in use, keep the heat low in the winter and skip the AC in the summer, invest in blackout curtains that keep heat in or out depending on the time of year, use more eco friendly lightbulbs, invest in rechargeable batteries, etc.
- Reuse – Stop purchasing any and all disposable items. Go for reusable products.
- Stop Supporting Large Companies – Large corporations are normally the very worst when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions. Stop supporting them. Shop local and shop from companies who are environmentally conscience.
- Talk About It – Educate others and talk about how each one of us can directly impact climate change.
- Vote – Get involved and vote. Know your politicians and what they stand for.
The Future is Dark
It can feel like we have done too much irreversible damage and makes us want to give up. The fact is if we all get our shit together and start making changes we can save our planet. Stop using excuses, get off of your ass, and do something. Be part of the solution not the problem.