While scientists overwhelmingly agree that climate change exists, man is causing it, and it’s a danger to life on Earth, there are some who either don’t believe the science or have a hard time understanding it. Even among people who accept climate change as a reality, many feel like there is nothing to be done about it. Climate change must be addressed on a global scale, yes, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do at home to help.
What is climate change?
Climate change is different than weather and also different, but similar, to global warming. Weather changes happen in the short term – minutes, hours, even months. Climate change is defined as large-scale changes in the Earth’s climate over longer periods of time – years, decades, centuries. Global warming is the rising of average global temperatures caused by the greenhouse effect (the trapping of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere). Global warming is a part of climate change.
How do humans contribute to climate change on an individual level?
As humans, many of our daily activities contribute to climate change. The burning of fossil fuels is the leading cause of global warming, and as individuals we contribute to this when we use electricity or drive a car. This produces CO2. We also contribute to the production of other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide when we use products aided by fertilizers and by producing trash for landfills.
Is it too late?
Scientists warn that there is probably no way to completely stop or reverse the negative effects of climate change. Even if we stopped all greenhouse gas emissions today, there would still be lingering effects for years. But that doesn’t mean we should give up hope. It is not too late to reduce the effects.
“It may not be too late to avoid or limit some of the worst effects of climate change. Responding to climate change will involve a two-tier approach: 1) ‘mitigation’ – reducing the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; and 2) ‘adaptation’ – learning to live with, and adapt to, the climate change that has already been set in motion,” says NASA.