The Earth is warming, and the changes we’re seeing are affecting human society and natural ecosystems. Some of these changes, like sea level rise and changes in weather patterns such as drought and flooding, are expected to become increasingly disruptive over the coming decades. Those most affected by climate change are the poorest and least responsible for it, living in low-income and vulnerable countries and communities.
Scientists are observing changes in every region of the world, and throughout the whole climate system, that are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years. Many of these changes have already been set in motion and will be irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.
The most important driver of climate change is the accumulation of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. These are produced by burning fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) as well as by deforestation. In addition, other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide also contribute to greenhouse gas levels.
There is scientific consensus that unmitigated emissions will lead to global warming of several degrees Celsius by 2100. This will have high impacts on health, agriculture and food security, water supply, transportation, biodiversity, and ecosystems.
It is often difficult to understand the causes of Climate Change, because it affects so many aspects of life on our planet. But the key thing to remember is that we’re not just talking about warmer temperatures; we’re talking about a complete and complex climate system. Changes in one part of the system will have effects on all other parts.
For example, the rising temperature of the ocean is causing it to expand, which is contributing to sea level rise. It is also making the ocean more acidic, which is affecting marine life and reducing the amount of oxygen it produces. The changes occurring in the ocean and atmosphere are affecting all living organisms, including humans.
Climate Change is a global problem, and as such, it requires an international response. Changing the way we live and reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases will require large-scale transitions in land use, energy production and use, building construction and infrastructure, and vehicles. It will also require substantial financial investments and a shift in how we value nature. These transitions are needed now, because the impacts of Climate Change are growing rapidly.