Climate change refers to a variety of changes in weather and ocean patterns that have been observed since the start of the industrial age. These changes are a result of a global increase in the concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), in the atmosphere.
The warming trend is causing many effects that affect everything from the environment to the economy. These changes include the rising of sea levels, changes in weather patterns like heat waves and droughts, and the loss of habitat for some species.
Warming of the planet is caused by the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil. These gases trap heat from the sun’s rays. They also prevent some heat from escaping into space (called the greenhouse effect).
Humans have been contributing to climate change through the use of fossil fuels, deforestation, and other activities for many decades. They have altered the natural balance of the planet’s energy by increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, reducing snow cover in some areas, and changing rainfall patterns.
While climate change has always been a part of Earth’s natural cycle, the rate of warming is much faster than during any other time in history. This rapid warming is mainly caused by the increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities.
Temperatures in most parts of the world are now at least 1 degC (1.8 degF) higher than they were a century ago, and are rising more rapidly than at any time since records began in the mid-1700s. This rapid increase in temperatures is a direct result of the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of coal and oil.
There is evidence that the earliest human influence on climate was the burning of firewood for heating and cooking, resulting in the release of carbon dioxide into the air. This was followed by the industrial revolution, when factories and farms burned more fuel than ever before.
These changes in the atmosphere and ocean are altering the natural balance of the planet, including a rise in the average temperature of the planet, which leads to an increase in heat waves, droughts, wildfires, extreme rainfall, and other weather patterns. These weather changes cause a wide range of health impacts.
Climate-sensitive diseases such as tropical cyclones, heat stroke, malaria, and waterborne illnesses can be particularly vulnerable to climate change. In addition, climate change may exacerbate existing disease, creating new public health challenges for people worldwide.
The oceans are absorbing more carbon dioxide than they did before the industrial revolution, changing their chemical makeup to make them more acidic. This is affecting marine life, and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets is also causing sea level to rise.
While some species are able to adapt, the impact of climate change is overwhelming for other plants and animals. Some plants may bloom earlier and expand their geographic range, while some animals may become extinct or struggle to find food and water as their habitats shrink.