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What is Climate Change?

Throughout the course of Earth's history, the global climate has slowly evolved and changed. Natural disasters and other natural processes such as volcanic erruptions shift the climate, which involves changes in temeratures, rainfalls, as well as quality of outside air. For the most part, global temperatures rise and fall and are relatively stable, but they have the capability to grow, partly due to an increase in what are known as greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gasses are particles in the air that trap heat reflected from the earth's surface.

In recent years, however, man-made climate change has become a huge concern. Scientific evidence shows that since the Industrial Revolution, the rate at which earth's global average temperature is growing is constantly increasing at an alarming rate. This, scientists say, is due to the massive increase in the ouput of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. The largest source of this carbon dioxide is energy production. Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, which are also not a renewable resource, releases carbon dioxide into the air.

A factory emitting smoke

Factories like this one emit Carbon Dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which contributes to the warming of the planet. Photo by John Short. Source.

Another way the temperature is rising is through the ocean. Like a domino effect, the carbon dioxide induced global warming melts glaciers and ice sheets. This in turn raises sea level, and in turn raises temperature of the surface, the area over the ocean, and therefore the sky in general. Measurements in all of these correlate with models formuated by scientists.

A diagram showing the overlapping effects of global warming on oceans.

A diagram showing how the effects of global warming are visible in changes through the ocean. Retrieved from the 2014 National Climate Assessment.Source.

How rapidly is the temperature rising? Well, according to the National Climate Assessment, "the U.S. average temperature has increased by 1.3 degrees Farenheit to 1.9 degrees Farenheit since 1895, and most of this increase has occured since 1970." Climate change experts argue that even within just a few decades, we will be seeing an increase of 2 to 4 degrees Farenheit in many parts of the country.

A graph showing that human actions have had influence on temperatures.

This graph shows that the temperature follows a trend that was projected by carbon emissions due to humans. Retrieved from the 2014 National Climate Assessment. Source.

What are the effects of Climate Change?

Global effects

Since climate change is a global phenomenon, all parts of the world are being impacted in some way. As the name global warming implies, temperatures will generally be increasing all throughout the world, including in the ocean.

Environments will be affected for many species, and this in turn may cause problems in food chains in ecosystems, causing food shortages. This also means species may become endangered or even extinct if nothing is done to protect them.

As the glaciers and ice sheets of places like Greenland and Antarctica melt, sea level will rise, resulting in catastrophic flooding of coasts across the world. This will cause people to evacuate and will cost countries billions of dollars.

A photo of flooded homes in New Orleans.

Permanent flooding is a serious issue for coastal cities with low elevations. The melting of large glaciers will produce a rise in sea level, creating situations like this one in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, but with lasting consequences. Photo by Jocelyn Augustino. Source.

Effects on senior citizens in the Midwest

Here are a some of the effects that Climate Change can have on the Midwest:

What can you do to help?

Although it may seem like the world is being pulled into an irreversible direction, there are plenty of ways to slow down the rate at which our climate is changing as well as help mitigate or offset its toxic effects. If everyone works together to slow down Global Warming, we could better our children's futures.

Click Here to Learn What You Can Do To Help