Climate change is real and it’s happening now.
Climate is the general weather pattern for a certain place or region averaged over several years; it includes factors such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate change is literally that: a significant, long-term change in a region’s weather patterns. Climate change can have many impacts including stronger storms or droughts, sea level rise and higher temperatures.
The Earth has witnessed several climate shifts in its history, including ice ages and major warmings. We currently are facing an unprecedented global warming trend with dramatic implications for the climate where we have evolved to thrive.
The villain of our climate change story is the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, or CO2. CO2, as well as other greenhouse gases including methane, forms a blanket in the atmosphere and prevents solar radiation from escaping into space, just like a blanket traps our own body heat. The more CO2 we crank into the atmosphere, the thicker this blanket and the more climate change we face. And cranking we are: CO2 levels are currently the highest they’ve been in 650,000 years..
Most scientists agree that humans are the primary source of this escalating CO2. Whenever we burn fossil fuels – oil, coal and natural gas – we release CO2 into the atmosphere. Trees and other plants capture CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into oxygen. But the combined effect of humans’ long history of forest clearing and current level of fossil fuel burning has far outstripped natural CO2 absorption. The bottom line is, we have way too much CO2 in our skies.
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