Climate Change

Understanding climate change

What is climate change?

According to a widespread scientific consensus, there has been a rise in global average temperatures that have coincided with industrialisation. As such, it is a human-made problem that has come about because of the activities of man rather than of natural shifts in the climate – something which is also known to occur. A lot of climate change has happened in recent years, largely due to the cumulative effect of carbon dioxide – and other so-called greenhouse gases – which have been released into the atmosphere. Although some heat energy dissipates into space, such gases can trap much of it, rather like a greenhouse, leading to higher than expected average temperatures and other climatic changes, such as increased extreme wind ferocity. Many campaigners now believe there is a climate emergency which requires drastic action in order to overcome its worst effects on the environment.

Why is climate change education important? 

Although there is a wealth of information about climate change in the public domain, much of it is technical and difficult to understand fully. What's more, like any global scientific endeavour, there are differences of emphasis within the scientific community. Only by understanding the science better will the general public be able to grasp the true nature of the effects of this issue. Some people deny climate change or say that it is entirely natural, which is not a widely held view but, without education, such voices tend to make an unwarranted impact.

Can climate change be reversed?

Most scientists agree that climate change will occur to some degree or other and that complete reversal is unrealistic. However, the worst effects of it can be reversed by drastically reducing the amount of carbon dioxide and other gases that are put into the atmosphere. Carbon capture technology, which removes that which has already escaped, may also be a big part of dealing with the problem. However, the effects of climate change are already underway, so the window of time available for action is ever-shrinking.

How does climate change affect oceans?

In the ocean, algae, which actually soaks up some of the energy that is generated from climate change, grow more in higher temperatures. This is not enough to help solve the problem, however, especially since major ocean currents are affected by the shifting climate. More heat energy leads to greater humidity which can cause more dangerous hurricanes and typhoons. In addition, melting ice at the polar caps causes sea levels to rise – a big problem for coastal communities.

What can you do about climate change?

Reducing your consumption, travelling less – especially by aeroplane – and recycling are all good measures that help to reduce your carbon footprint. Campaigning to ensure politicians develop environmentally responsible policies is another good idea. Some people advocate a vegetarian diet or cutting down on meat, too, since animal husbandry is considered to be carbon-intensive.

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