Climate Change: Vital Signs from the Planet and Its Impact on us – Guest post by Shannon Minnis

Climate change is a hot topic these days, and yes, the pun is intended. That’s because the Earth is changing at a much faster rate than it has in the past. It’s no wonder scientists are starting to become concerned.

Because the term is politically charged, people tend to avoid learning more. However, it’s important to know what climate change is and how we can make a difference.

What Is Climate Change?

Climate change, as the name implies, simply refers to the Earth’s changing climate. It’s a naturally occurring process, so you may be wondering what the big deal is.

Though the Earth naturally goes through phases, human activity has accelerated this process to an alarming rate. Researchers have conducted thousands of studies to document temperatures on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, and in the oceans. They have found that most temperatures are on the rise and have been for years.

However, it’s not just temperatures that are changing. It has affected other parts of the world and how they operate.

What causes it

Scientists state that one of the leading causes of the Earth’s changing climate is the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect refers to rising temperatures that occur when the atmosphere traps heat that the Earth radiates toward space. There are certain gases in the atmosphere that prevent heat from escaping the planet, including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and water vapor.

If there’s an increase in those gases in the atmosphere, it increases how much heat they hold in. Human activity has increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than a third, and that has only been since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Another factor to climate change is the varying output of energy from the sun. In fact, some studies link the sun to the Little Ice Age that occurred between the 17th and 19th centuries.

However, scientists conclude that the sun has had a minimal increase in energy output, so the sun alone couldn’t have caused higher global temperatures.

The current changes in weather and temperature have impacted the Earth. You can say that certain changes are good or bad, but it has nevertheless had an impact.

How it affects the planet

Climate change affects the planet in numerous ways. However, different parts of the world react differently to those changes, both environmentally and societally. We can control how we react as a society, but the environmental changes will continue to come.

One obvious impact on the planet from climate change is the rise in global temperatures. Due to this, the frost-free and growing seasons will continue to lengthen. Most areas in the United States have seen an increase in precipitation in the last century, and that trend will continue.

Even still, studies have shown an increase in droughts and heatwaves in the summer months. Hurricanes have also been more severe since the 1980s, and scientists project sea levels will rise a few feet in the next century. In fact, the Arctic Ocean may be free of ice in the next few decades.

When climate change impacts the planet, it also impacts us. Hotter summers lead to increased use of electric air conditioning units, which only increases carbon dioxide emissions. Extreme weather is also detrimental to human health, whether it be floods, hurricanes, or heat waves.

Though it may seem hopeless to some, each of us can make a difference.

wind farm

What Can We Do to Help?

Thankfully, you can make small changes in your life to combat climate change. For one, you can reduce your energy consumption. Make the switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, and refrain from leaving lights or other electronics plugged in when they don’t need to be.

You should also switch and invest in renewable energy, like solar and wind energy. That allows you to use electricity without relying on the burning of fossil fuels that increase emissions.

It’s also a good idea to reuse everyday items and cut out single-use plastics. Manufacturing creates tons of emissions, but you don’t have to contribute to it. For example, repurpose your old plastic, metal, and glass.

Thinking about your every day habits can help you to see where you can cut back and be kind to the Earth.

Now Is the Time to Take Climate Change Seriously

Climate change impacts the planet, and it’s up to us to reduce our footprint. Though changes in global climates are natural, human activity has accelerated the natural process. That leads to higher temperatures, extreme weather, and warmer, ice-free oceans.

It comes from our use of fossil fuels that increase the number of gases in the atmosphere, and it isn’t good for human health. Thankfully, our actions can reduce emissions and make a difference in the world.

What habits are you going to break to fight climate change? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Shannon Minnis

www.greenandgrowing.org

 

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