Climate change refers to long-term changes in the earth’s climate. Climate change does not describe the day-to-day weather we experience. Instead, it describes significant changes in the expected weather conditions of a large region over many years.
Recently, Earth’s surface and atmospheric temperatures are increasing, and this is due to human activity. Humans are polluting the atmosphere with harmful gases like carbon dioxide and methane. These gases, called greenhouse gases, are produced by big factories, oil drilling, large-scale agriculture, and the cars we drive every day. Greenhouse gases trap heat inside Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in an overall warming effect.
When scientists today discuss climate change, they mean the abnormal changes to the climate caused by the increase in Earth’s average temperature.
EVIDENCE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
- The Earth’s surface temperature has risen 0.9 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century. Most of the warming occurred in the last four decades.
- 2016 was the warmest year on record.
- Ice caps, ice sheets, and glaciers are melting globally, from Greenland to Antarctica.
- Global sea levels rose about 8 inches in the last century.
HOW CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS LIFE ON EARTH
Climate change has led to an increase in extreme weather events globally. This includes record high and low temperatures, as well as natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.
Africa is a continent with many unique plants and animals, and specific countries such as South Africa and Tanzania are world-renowned for their incredible nature. Unfortunately, these countries are now vulnerable to species extinctions, as animals lose their habitats to climate change.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Reducing your environmental impact can be both simple and affordable. Some quick switches you can make today:
EAT LESS MEAT
This can be smaller portions of meat per meal, more meatless meals, or going completely vegetarian.
In agricultural societies across Africa and the Americas, meat is viewed as a status symbol because it is an expensive product. This symbolic association between eating meat and power is challenging to overcome, but reducing meat in a diet significantly reduces its environmental footprint.
REDUCE PLASTIC CONSUMPTION
Items such as plastic bottles are very difficult to recycle, and often end up polluting oceans.
Additionally, the production of plastic releases large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to global temperature increases.
USE LED LIGHTS
LED bulbs use up to 80% less energy than normal light bulbs.
Climate change is a serious threat to our planet, but now that it’s been identified, we can work to counteract it. If we each make a small effort to take better care of the earth, we can slow rising temperatures, conserve biodiversity, and ensure that future generations get to appreciate all of Earth’s beauty.