Climate change is one of the greatest threats to our planet. According to a survey of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals, almost all scientists – 97.1%, to be exact – believe that climate change is real, and also that it is being caused by humans. But what exactly is it that we are doing that is causing climate change, and can it be stopped?
Earth has constantly experienced changes in climate, with periods of increases and decreases of temperature caused by small changes in Earth’s orbit and how much solar energy the planet receives. This natural cycle of change is a major reason some people are skeptics of climate change.
However, the current increase in temperature is unlike anything seen on Earth in at least the last million years, mainly because of the rapid increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, which was caused by a major increase in the burning of fossil fuels over the last century.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which means it traps heat in the atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise. This is known as the greenhouse effect, and, as more carbon dioxide is released through the burning of fossil fuels, the more temperatures will continue to increase. Currently, global average temperatures are up 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to NASA, if current trends continue, Earth will likely see a temperature increase of anywhere between 2.5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit, sea levels will rise 1 to 8 feet by 2100, there will be more droughts and heat waves, and hurricanes will become stronger and more intense. If these trends continue for an even longer period, entire species may be wiped out, and Earth may become completely uninhabitable for humanity.
There is action being taken to help diminish these effects. The use of renewable energy is increasing faster than the use of fossil fuels, electric vehicles are starting to become more accessible and affordable, and money is being invested in the development of new carbon-capture technologies that will help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Although there is more and more being invested into our planet’s wellbeing, things will most likely get worse before they get better. Carbon dioxide levels will not go down overnight. It will take years, possibly decades, of transitioning from traditional, fossil fuel energy towards clean and renewable energy before any positive effects are seen.
Until then, individuals can help in the fight against climate change by reducing water-waste through shorter showers and turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth, eat all the food you buy or buy less food to decrease energy consumption, and consider investing in renewable energy to power your home.
However, the greatest way to fight climate change is to talk to others about it. Tell your friends and family about the ways they can fight climate change, and contact your representatives and demand action to be taken against climate change, whether that means increasing the amount of renewable energy in your state or to decrease the amount of carbon pollution in your country.