What is Climate Change?
Simply put, climate change is a term for changes in global weather patterns due to high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, primarily by use of fossil fuels. A greenhouse gas (also known as the Greenhouse Effect) is any type of gas (such as CO2) that absorbs radiation produced by the warming of Earth’s surface.
The following are statements by NASA that show evidence for climate change:
The oceans have absorbed much of the Earth’s increased heat, with the top 700 meters of ocean showing warming of more than 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.
Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost an average of 281 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016, while Antarctica lost about 119 billion tons during the same time period. The rate of Antarctica ice mass loss has tripled in the last decade.
Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world.
Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century and is accelerating slightly every year.
The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.
- Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent.13,14 This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.
What are the Effects of Climate Change?
Due to climate change, global temperatures will continue to rise, along with sea levels, stronger hurricanes, more natural disasters, and an ice-free Arctic.
Why Does it Matter?
The idea of climate change can be somewhat overwhelming, depressing even. What can I do about matters beyond my control, that are already in motion? I cannot change the fate of the world or weather patterns. In this sense, why does climate change even matter? Well, first off, how can we do something if we do not have all the facts? There are organizations around the world dedicated to such research. It is important to realize the impact we can have if we all come together. In this sense, we must do what we can, and all of us can do something, whether it is petitioning for better policies, voting in responsible representatives, or altering our everyday habits. All of us can do something.
“Climate Change Evidence: How Do We Know?” NASA, NASA, 21 Sept. 2018, https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/.
“Climate Change Pathway Facts.” National Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife Federation, www.nwf.org/eco-schools-usa/become-an-eco-school/pathways/climate-change/facts.aspx .