Climate Change is caused by human activities, such as burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) in the production of electricity and transport. This has changed Earth’s atmosphere and traps heat in the atmosphere, making the planet warmer than it used to be.
Solar energy from the Sun enters our planet’s atmosphere and is absorbed by greenhouse gases. Some of the heat is redirected to Earth’s oceans and land surfaces. Some of it is reflected back to space by clouds, aerosols and other surface features. This is how Earth’s temperature varies from place to place and over time.
Global temperatures have increased by about 1.1 degrees Celsius since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, mainly as a result of increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and they’re expected to rise further. This has led to changes in the weather that include melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and warming seas.
In some areas, such as Antarctica and Greenland, the temperature has risen even more rapidly than expected. This has triggered changes in how plants and animals use water, including increasing the likelihood of droughts and floods.
Temperatures are also rising in other regions, such as East Africa and Latin America. This has a variety of impacts on plant and animal diversity, including the potential for species extinction.
The oceans absorb 93 percent of the heat trapped in our atmosphere, and they’re changing. This is causing marine life to migrate toward cooler and deeper waters, which can have serious consequences for food webs and important commercial fisheries.
Coastal storms are becoming more frequent, and they’re getting bigger and stronger. This is causing flooding and other problems, especially in coastal cities.
We can’t stop climate change by ourselves – it needs a major cultural shift and lots of action from everyone. That’s why scientists and policymakers are calling for a significant global response to the problem, with everyone doing their part.
If we don’t act, global temperatures are likely to rise to a level where people and countries will be displaced from their homes and livelihoods. This is a major challenge for people and communities living in developing countries, particularly those living on islands.
Our children are at risk, too. The effects of climate change, including more intense heat waves and shortened cold seasons, will impact the health of children around the world.
Scientists predict that by 2100, our climate will be even warmer than it is now. This will have significant impacts on crop yields, wildlife and human health.
We will also see changes in oceans, rivers and lakes as the water cycle is impacted by climate change. This will lead to changes in the availability of water for drinking, agriculture and other uses.
In addition, there are many other climate change impacts that can affect our lives. These include changes in ocean currents, such as the Gulf Stream and El Nino, which affect global weather patterns.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that the climate changes we are now seeing are unprecedented in thousands of years, and are irreversible unless we take action to cut emissions. This is why the science tells us that we have only a few decades to act before we face serious impacts to our economy, our infrastructure and our health.