Climate Change: There is no planet B
- 1 What is climate change?
- 2 Is climate change real?
- 3 What are the effects of climate change?
- 4 What causes climate change?
- 5 How does pollution affect the environment?
- 6 How does deforestation affect the environment?
- 7 How does global warming affect the environment?
- 8 How does acid rain affect the environment?
- 9 How does littering affect the environment?
- 10 How to stop climate change?
What is climate change?
Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle.
Is climate change real?
The effects of climate change are impacting humans everywhere in the world. Impacts can now be observed on all continents and ocean regions, with low-latitude, less developed areas facing the greatest risk.
What are the effects of climate change?
Warmer temperatures over time are changing weather patterns and disrupting the usual balance of nature. This poses many risks to human beings and all other forms of life on Earth.
1. Hotter temperatures
Nearly all land areas are seeing more hot days and heat waves; 2020 was one of the hottest years on record. Higher temperatures increase heat-related illnesses and can make it more difficult to work and move around. Wildfires start more easily and spread more rapidly when conditions are hotter.
2. More severe storms
Changes in temperature cause changes in rainfall. This results in more severe and frequent storms. They cause flooding and landslides, destroying homes and communities, and costing billions of pounds.
3. Increased drought
Water is becoming scarcer in more regions. Droughts can stir destructive sand and dust storms that can move billions of tons of sand across continents. Deserts are expanding, reducing land for growing food. Many people now face the threat of not having enough water on a regular basis.
4. A warming, rising ocean
The ocean soaks up most of the heat from global warming. This melts ice sheets and raises sea levels, threatening coastal and island communities. The ocean also absorbs carbon dioxide, keeping it from the atmosphere. More carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic, which endangers marine life.
5. Loss of species
Climate change poses risks to the survival of species on land and in the ocean. These risks increase as temperatures climb. Forest fires, extreme weather and invasive pests and diseases are among many threats. Some species will be able to relocate and survive, but others will not.
6. Not enough food
Changes in climate and increases in extreme weather events are among the reasons behind a global rise in hunger and poor nutrition. Fisheries crops, and livestock may be destroyed or become less productive. Heat stress can diminish water and grasslands for grazing.
7. More health risks
Changing weather patterns are expanding diseases such as malaria. Extreme weather events increase disease and death, and make it difficult for health care systems to keep up. Other risks to health include increased hunger and poor nutrition in places where people cannot grow or find sufficient food.
8. Poverty and displacement
Climate change increases the factors that put and keep people in poverty. Floods may sweep away urban slums, destroying homes and livelihoods. Heat can make it difficult to work in outdoor jobs. Weather-related disasters displace 23 million people a year, leaving many more vulnerable to poverty.
What causes climate change?
As greenhouse gas emissions blanket the Earth, they trap the sun’s heat. This leads to global warming and climate change. The world is now warming faster than at any point in recorded history.
1. Generating power
Generating electricity and heat by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas causes a large chunk of global emissions. Most electricity is still produced from fossil fuels; only about a quarter comes from wind, solar and other renewable sources.
2. Manufacturing goods
Manufacturing and industry produce emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels to produce energy for making things like cement, iron, steel, electronics, plastics, clothes and other goods. Mining and other industrial processes also release gases.
3. Cutting down forests
Cutting down forests to create farms or pastures, or for other reasons, causes emissions, since trees, when they are cut, release the carbon they have been storing. Since forests absorb carbon dioxide, destroying them also limits nature’s ability to keep emissions out of the atmosphere.
4. Using transportation
Most cars, lorries, ships and planes run on fossil fuels. That makes transportation a major contributor of greenhouse gases, especially carbon-dioxide emissions. Road vehicles account for the largest part, but emissions from ships and planes continue to grow.
5. Producing food
Producing food requires energy to run farm equipment or fishing boats, usually with fossil fuels. Growing crops can also cause emissions, like when using fertilisers and manure. Cattle produce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. And emissions also come from packaging and distributing food.
6. Powering buildings
Globally, residential and commercial buildings consume over half of all electricity. As they continue to draw on coal, oil and natural gas for heating and cooling, they emit significant quantities of greenhouse gas emissions.
7. Consuming too much
Your home and use of power, how you move around, what you eat and how much you throw away all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. So does the consumption of goods such as clothing, electronics and plastics.
How does pollution affect the environment?
Air pollution can damage crops and trees in a variety of ways. Ground-level ozone can lead to reductions in agricultural crop and commercial forest yields, reduced growth and survivability of tree seedlings, and increased plant susceptibility to disease, pests and other environmental stresses (such as harsh weather).
How does deforestation affect the environment?
Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide. If forests are cleared, or even disturbed, they release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Forest loss and damage is the cause of around 10% of global warming. There’s simply no way we can fight the climate crisis if we don’t stop deforestation.
How does global warming affect the environment?
Changes to Earth’s climate driven by increased human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are already having widespread effects on the environment: glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking, river and lake ice is breaking up earlier, plant and animal geographic ranges are shifting, and plants and trees are blooming
How does acid rain affect the environment?
Acid rain can be extremely harmful to forests. Acid rain that seeps into the ground can dissolve nutrients, such as magnesium and calcium, that trees need to be healthy. Acid rain also causes aluminum to be released into the soil, which makes it difficult for trees to take up water.
How does littering affect the environment?
These poisons can make their way into the soil and freshwater sources, impacting both humans and animals. In fact, 60% of water pollution is attributed to litter. In addition to water and land pollution, litter can also pollute the air.
How to stop climate change?
Everyone can help limit climate change. From the way we travel, to the electricity we use and the food we eat, we can make a difference. Start with these ten actions to help tackle the climate crisis.
1. Save energy at home
Much of our electricity and heat is powered by coal, oil and gas. Use less energy by lowering your heating and cooling, switching to LED light bulbs and energy-efficient electric appliances, washing your laundry with cold water or hanging things to dry instead of using a dryer.
2. Walk, cycle or take public transport
The world’s roads are clogged with vehicles, most of them burning diesel or petrol. Walking or riding a bike instead of driving will reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and help your health and fitness. For longer distances, consider taking a train or bus. And carpool whenever possible.
3. Eat more vegetables
Eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and less meat and dairy, can significantly lower your environmental impact. Producing plant-based foods generally results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires less energy, land and water.
4. Consider your travel
Aeroplanes burn large amounts of fossil fuels, producing significant greenhouse gas emissions. That makes taking fewer flights one of the fastest ways to reduce your environmental impact. When you can, meet virtually, take a train or skip that long-distance trip altogether.
5. Throw away less food
When you throw food away, you’re also wasting the resources and energy that were used to grow, produce, package and transport it. And when food rots in a landfill, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. So use what you buy and compost any leftovers.
6. Reduce, reuse, repair & recycle
Electronics, clothes and other items we buy cause carbon emissions at each point in production, from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing and transporting goods to market. To protect our climate, buy fewer things, shop second-hand, repair what you can and recycle.
7. Change your home's source of energy
Ask your utility company if your home energy comes from oil, coal or gas. If possible, see if you can switch to renewable sources such as wind or solar. Or install solar panels on your roof to generate energy for your home.
8. Switch to an electric vehicle
If you plan to buy a car, consider going electric, with more and cheaper models coming on the market. Even if they still run on electricity produced from fossil fuels, electric cars help reduce air pollution and cause significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than petrol or diesel-powered vehicles.