What is Climate Change?
The EPA defines climate change as “any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change may result from:
- Natural factors, such as changes in the sun's intensity or slow changes in the earth's orbit around the sun;
- Natural processes within the climate system (e.g. changes in ocean circulation);
- Human activities that change the atmosphere's composition (e.g., through burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g., deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, desertification, etc.)”
Impacts of Climate Change
Climate change is already affecting the landscape around us, weather patterns, and our health. These affects can be seen in the following ways:
- The loss of Arctic Sea ice is destroying the habitats of polar bears and walruses, threatening their survival.
- In the Caribbean, warmer temperatures are skewing gender ratios of sea turtles, undermining the stability of the species.
- Most of us will experience climate change in the form of extreme weather: floods, droughts, heat waves, and stronger storms and hurricanes.
- Globally, climate change is causing glacial melt, sea level rise, loss of Arctic Sea ice, increased insect infestation, wider spread diseases and extreme weather events.
- Changing temperatures have increased the range of animals and bugs such as ticks, which has led to the increase of Lyme Disease.
- The allergy season has lengthened due to warmer temperatures and later frosts, affecting people’s health.
What Can We Do About It?
To slow the effects of climate change, individuals, communities, and industries must make choices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and heavy oils. Risks can also be reduced by preparing for the effects of inevitable change.