We often see news headlines talking about climate change. But what does climate change really mean? Let’s break it down. Climate refers to the weather conditions in a particular area over a long period of time. For example, the Sahara Desert has a dry climate, which is why it’s unlikely to see rain there. Climate change refers to when the climate of an area changes over time. In this case, the area is the earth. Over the past 100 years, the earth has been steadily getting warmer. This is why climate change is also sometimes called global warming.
What’s causing climate change? Scientists believe that climate change is caused by the activities of humans. In particular, human activities that release greenhousegases. These activities include driving cars, industrial production, burning coal, and flying in airplanes. These all emit greenhousegases, which are released into the atmosphere. The most well-known greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Once greenhouse gasses are in the atmosphere, they trap reflected sunlight from the earth. This causes the entire atmosphere to get warmer. This is known as the greenhouse effect. Think about a greenhouse trapping heat to help plants grow. Now imagine that greenhouse is the Earth, steadily getting hotter.
Another reason for climate change is that the earth’s ozone layer, a special part of the atmosphere that shields the earth from the sun’s rays, is being depleted. This is because of the use of aerosols. Since a hole in the ozone layer was discovered, many countries have signed international treaties promising to stop using these harmful types of aerosols.
We can already see the effects of climate change on earth. Polar ice caps and glaciers are melting, and the global average temperature is rising. Additionally, the oceans are becoming more acidic. This is because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere produces acidic conditions in the ocean, which can make it difficult for ocean life, like coral, to survive. In the future, climate change has the potential to negatively impact all life as we know it, including human life.
So – what can we do to stop climate change? In our daily life, we can drive less, carpool more, go on fewer vacations that require airplane flights, only use electric appliances when we really need them, and buy locally grown food. On a larger scale, we can advocate for public transportation, support renewable energy projects, and educate others about what climate change is and how it can be prevented. These are just a few solutions, but there are many more. Climate change doesn’t mean the end of the world – but it does mean that humans will have to come together to find a solution.