What is Climate Change?

Climate Change is the long-term average increase in Earth’s temperature caused by human activities. These activities include burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas), deforestation, and land-use changes. These activities increase the amount of “heat-trapping” greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which causes Earth’s surface temperatures to rise. Climate change can also cause sea level to rise and changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns that influence regional weather conditions.

Over the last century, average global temperatures have been warming faster than ever before. This is due to the buildup of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. These emissions come primarily from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) in homes, factories and transport vehicles. When fossil fuels are burned they release CO2, which traps the Sun’s heat in the atmosphere, causing the planet to warm up.

Scientists are confident that human activities are the primary cause of these changes. This confidence is based on evidence from a wide range of sources including direct observations, satellites, ocean measurements and historical records. Evidence also comes from ice cores and other geological sources. This information helps scientists understand how Earth’s climate has changed over hundreds of thousands of years.

Some of the most important evidence comes from the fact that Earth’s surface temperatures have been rising much faster over the last decade than in previous decades. The warmest years on record have all occurred since 2004. Temperatures are expected to continue rising for many years and, if emissions are not significantly reduced, could reach unprecedented levels.

The effects of climate change are already being felt by people around the world, ranging from drought and wildfires to extreme flooding and heat waves. Warmer temperatures have made some places more humid, allowing for the growth of diseases carried by mosquitoes and other insects. As the climate changes, some species are migrating from their traditional habitats, causing a loss of biodiversity.

Climate change is expected to affect every person and country on the planet, but the impact will be different for each region. The most vulnerable will be those living in poorer countries, who do not contribute to the problem but will suffer from its consequences. These will be those with fewer resources to adapt and deal with these new challenges.

It is time to stop arguing about the facts of climate change and make a commitment to act on this issue. The evidence is clear, but what is needed is a major cultural change, a true paradigm shift.

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