What is Climate Change and How is it Affecting Us?

Climate Change is the global warming of Earth caused by human activities. The most significant cause is the addition of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide levels in the air are increasing as people burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas for energy. Other sources of greenhouse gases include the exhalation of most animals, agricultural activity, and deforestation. These emissions are causing the planet to warm faster than it has in thousands of years.

In the past 250 years, the world’s temperature has increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit). This is already having profound impacts on ecosystems around the globe: glaciers and ice sheets are melting, sea level rise is speeding up, and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense.

The climate crisis is impacting every country and region. Rising temperatures are driving environmental degradation, natural disasters, food and water insecurity, economic disruption, conflict, and terrorism. In the long term, it will worsen the health of all living things on our planet.

Globally, the average surface air temperature has risen by about 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the beginning of the 20th century. Temperatures in some regions have warmed even more, with the Arctic warming twice as fast as any other part of the planet.

The Arctic is heating up so quickly because of the loss of its ice. As the ice melts, darker ocean waters absorb more sunlight and heat up. This creates a positive feedback loop, and the melt is accelerating.

Adding to the problem is that warmer air holds more moisture, so it rains more often and with more intensity. This contributes to floods, droughts, and wildfires. These events are already harming communities and driving displacement and hunger.

Many of the most severe consequences of climate change will hit the poorest nations and people first and hardest. They have contributed the least to the climate crisis, and lack the resources to adapt. This is why addressing the climate crisis demands both bold collective action and the elimination of poverty and inequality.

The most effective way to slow down the pace of global warming is by reducing our consumption of energy that produces greenhouse gases. This means using renewable energies like wind, solar, and hydropower instead of fossil fuels. Getting involved in advocating for policies that limit carbon emissions and require polluters to pay is another great way to help. By talking to friends and neighbors, writing letters to your elected officials, and voting for climate-friendly candidates, you can make a difference!

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