What Is Climate Change?
Climate change is a broad term referring to the various changes in climate patterns, weather, natural disasters, and more that have happened on Earth, namely since the end of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-19th century. The average global temperature has risen by about 0.8°C (1.4°F) since 1880, according to NASA, with about two-thirds of that rise occurring over the past several decades. The increase has only gotten more severe over the past decade.
What Causes Climate Change?
A variety of human activities cause greenhouse gas emissions, which cause the greenhouse effect, which causes the Earth’s surface to heat up, which causes the climate to “change.” Besides climate patterns, this all has also negatively impacted many other natural ecosystems on Earth.
Is Climate Change Real?
What Is the Greenhouse Effect?
The greenhouse effect is how the Earth’s surface gets warmer. The sun’s rays naturally warm the planet’s atmosphere, and some of that is naturally reflected back into space. But when there are increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the greenhouse gases trap some of the sunlight and absorb it into the Earth’s surface.
What Causes Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
Greenhouse gas emissions are one of the greatest contributors to climate change. As detailed by the EPA, here’s a breakdown of global emissions by economic sector, based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) data from 2010:
Electricity and heat production, 25 percent: This mostly comes from the burning of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and crude oil to be used for electricity and heat.
Agriculture, forestry, and other land use, 24 percent: This comes from animal agriculture, the cultivation of crops, and deforestation. So many crops must be grown to feed livestock, before the animals are turned into meat, dairy, and eggs, which is one reason why diets filled with animal products have higher environmental impacts.
Industry, 21 percent: This sector comes from fossil fuels being burned for energy, and for the production of plastic products
Transportation, 14 percent: Transportation’s impact comes from fossil fuels being burned for all forms of transportation, including cars, buses, airplanes, trains, and ships.
Buildings, 6 percent: Building emissions come from burning fuels for heat and electricity.
Other energy, 10 percent: The remaining 10 percent of emissions comes from other things like fuel extraction, refining, and transportation.
Is Climate Change Caused By Humans?
Yes. As seen in the above breakdown, most global greenhouse gas emissions come directly from human activities, such as extracting and using fossil fuels, raising livestock, and more.
What Is Global Warming?
Global warming is the long-term average temperature rise of the planet that has been going on for at least a century, but most significantly over the past few decades, as a result of fossil fuel emissions and greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate Change vs. Global Warming
Global warming is basically just one big part of climate change. Climate change encompasses plenty of other disastrous things besides the Earth’s rising temperatures, such as sea levels rising, destruction of ecosystems, ice mass loss, and natural disasters, as per NASA.
What Is the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement, also known as the Paris Accord, is an agreement organized by the United Nations and signed by nearly every country on Earth in 2016. As set by the Paris Agreement, there is now a worldwide goal of keeping the global temperature rise below 2°C (or ideally below 1.5°C) from pre-industrial levels. Keeping the temperature from rising more than that would help mitigate the impact of the climate crisis.
How Will the Paris Agreement Help With Climate Change?
In order to maintain the Paris Agreement’s goal, countries, states, and cities are encouraged to increase their efforts to reduce emissions. Various locations around the world have passed bills with goals for carbon neutrality or to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For example, New York City has a goal of achieving a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050; and Chicago pledged to power all of its buildings on renewable energy by 2035, and to include its bus fleet in that by 2040.
What Are Other Climate Change Solutions?
In addition to legislators setting laws to curtail emissions, we will need large corporations to make changes that will make a difference. Large companies hold so much power, and if a company makes a change like changing their plastic packaging to a more sustainable material, powering their vehicles with more electric energy, or replacing animal products with plant-based ones, they can make an enormous impact.
To help get the ball rolling on your community passing bills, or on corporations instituting new policies, you can write to your local legislators or to companies with your requests and support.
How Are Scientists Curbing Climate Change?
Scientists have plenty of ideas and methods to curb the climate crisis. Many scientists believe the reforestation of the Earth, aka planting mass quantities of trees, could significantly help. That’s because trees absorb CO2, which is a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere.
The late scientist Wallace Smith Broecker, known for popularizing the phrase “global warming,” has suggested scientists start seriously looking into geoengineering as a means of saving the Earth from the climate crisis. According to the University of Oxford's Geoengineering Programme, geoengineering is "the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change."
How Can I Help Climate Change?
There are so many lifestyle changes that we can make on personal levels to reduce our individual contributions to climate change. The most important thing conscious citizens can do is stop contributing to the animal agriculture industry adopt a vegan diet. A study by the University of Oxford studied the environmental impact of livestock, and found that animal products are responsible for so many more environmental problems than you may think.
“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use,” Oxford researcher Joseph Poore explained, according to The Guardian. “It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”
Can Climate Change Be Reversed?
The more that governments, corporations, and consumers start taking the climate crisis seriously, the closer we will get to keeping the global temperature from rising to dangerous levels. While awareness is certainly rising, so is the global temperature. But hopefully, with the effort of people all over the world, the global temperature rise will slow down.
How Does Climate Change Affect Us?
Climate change has plenty of impacts on society. Extreme weather and natural disasters can destroy homes and injure or even kill humans. Additionally, poor air quality, which is related to climate change, can affect human health. Not to mention, soil and groundwater is polluted in various regions all over the world, and that can also affect food supply. As we as a society work to reduce things that are bad for the planet such as animal agriculture, deforestation, single-use plastic, fossil fuels, and excessive use of pesticides, things like pollution and natural disasters mya become less prominent.
Photo source: Ian Waldie/Getty Images
Latest Climate Change News and Updates
Jordan Peele Joins Climate Change-Themed Horror Short, 'Moshari,' as EPJordan Peele recently signed on to executive produce the new short horror movie 'Moshari,' which is sure to thrill horror fans and environmentalists alike.
Royals Will and Kate Prepare to Announce 2022 Earthshot Prize Winners at Star-Studded EventPrice William and Princess Kate are in Boston to announce the 2022 Earthshot Prize winners.
The Leather Industry’s Impact on the Planet — and Its Rampant Greenwashing — Analyzed in New ReportJust how bad is leather for the environment? A new report analyzes its impacts, as well as greenwashing in the fashion industry.
Why We Should Care About Climate Change, and Why We Need to Act NowA lot of people ask: Why should we care about climate change? Many think it’s a far-off problem and can’t see the real-life impacts of the climate crisis.
Everything We Know About Next Year's COP28 in DubaiCOP28 in Dubai will take place in 2023 from Nov. 30 through Dec. 12. The annual Conference of Parties is held in to discuss and work on climate goals and solutions.
Sponge Cities May Be the Way of the Future in Flood-Prone Areas, From China to FloridaHow do sponge cities work? Here’s what you need to know about this nature-based solution, and how it can prevent floods and provide other benefits.
Al Gore Presents Climate TRACE's AI-Based Emissions Data on 70,000 Polluters at COP27Climate TRACE, which Al Gore is a founding member of, has published new data identifying more than 70,000 polluting sites.
Climate Activists Barricade Airports in 13 Countries, Demanding Governments Ban Private JetsProtests in over a dozen countries this week focused on asking world leaders to ban private jets.
Herschel Walker's Climate Policies: Are the Candidate's Controversial Remarks on Trees for Real?What are Herschel Walker’s climate change policies like? And is he right about the world already having enough trees?
Soup and Cake Are Being Launched at Famous Paintings — Why Are Climate Activists Targeting Art?With soup being thrown at paintings, people all over the world are wondering: why are climate activists targeting art? These unusual climate protests have gained a lot of attention.
As Climate Mitigation Efforts Stumble, We Need Climate Adaptation More Than EverWhat does adaptation to climate change involve, exactly? A new UN report asserts that we are behind on climate change adaptation measures.
New Report Finds Startling Emissions Gaps Between Wealthy and PoorThe UN's Emissions Gap Report found that the chances of us staying on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement are pretty abysmal.
Polar Bear Week Celebrates the Iconic Arctic Animals — Here's Where to DonatePolar Bear Week falls during the annual polar bear migration in the town of Churchill, Canada.
From Outer Space, NASA's EMIT Identifies Methane "Super-Emitters" on EarthNASA’s EMIT program’s recent mission identified 50 methane “super-emitters” around planet Earth.
Global Warming Makes Winter Colder and Hotter — This Is HowGlobal warming makes winters colder and hotter. In general, winters are becoming warmer. But a study found that a disruption in the polar vortex can cause extremely cold weather.
What You Need to Know About This Year's COP27 AgendaCOP27 will be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The COP27 agenda consists of equity, food security, climate finance, clean energy, water security, and climate vulnerability.
What Are NDCs? Here's How They Can Help Fight Climate ChangeNationally determined contributions (NDCs) outline the actions a country is going to take to reduce the impacts of climate change. NDCs are part of the Paris Agreement.
The Audi Emissions Scandal: What You Need to KnowThe Audi emissions scandal happened when Volkswagen sold over half a million cars in the U.S. equipped with software designed to cheat on emissions tests.
What Is a Megadrought? The Facts on the Megadrought in the Western U.S.In the U.S., a megadrought in the West and Southwest has been persisting for decades, with no sign of relief in sight.
Study Finds Earth Is On the Verge of Hitting Five Climate Tipping Points — but "There Are Grounds for Hope"We are headed towards tipping points of climate change, a new study asserts.
In California, Climate Change Is Increasing the Risk of "Megafloods," Which Could Displace MillionsA new study believes that in California, megafloods could be the newest natural disaster.
We Are Destroying Our Species: Study Finds Climate Change Is Exacerbating Infectious DiseasesClimate change and infectious diseases are much more connected than we thought, as per a new study.
The Inflation Reduction Act Passes in Senate — What Will This Bill Do for Climate?Environmentalists are hopeful that the climate part of the Inflation Reduction Act that just passed will actually, finally make a difference.
The Oil Industry Makes $2.8 Billion in Profit Every Day, New Data FindsNew data found that the oil and gas industry has made a profit of $2.8 billion every day for the last five decades.
Climate Change and Power Blackouts Are Related — Here's What You Need to KnowClimate change constantly impacts day-to-day lives, but could it also impact the frequency of power blackouts? Here's what you need to know.
Jane Goodall Now Has Her Own Barbie Doll, and We Promise It Isn’t Just for KidsYou heard it here first, folks — beloved ethologist, Jane Goodall, now has her own Barbie doll to honor her achievements as a conservation hero.
The Environmental Implications of Falling Gas PricesAlthough gas prices surged, thanks to the Russian-Ukraine war, they are now falling once again, implying the demand has drastically decreased.
Whiskey Company Aims to Decrease Invasive Population With Green Crab-Infused WhiskeyAlthough it isn't vegan, a distillery in New Hampshire, is incorporating invasive green crabs into their new creation, known as Crab Trapper Whiskey.
How Climate Activists Can Participate in #ShowYourStripes DayShow Your Stripes Day is a relatively new annual holiday that aims to spread awareness about the climate crisis.
Thousands of Cows in Kansas Were Tragically Killed — Here’s What HappenedWhy did 3,000 cows die in Kansas over the last two days? Reports from farmers say their cattle has not been able to withstand the heatwave.
How Climate Change Led to the Sriracha Hot Sauce Shortage, Which Is Expected to Last Until Labor DayThere is a serious sriracha sauce shortage, and production will be on hold for the next few months.
How Climate Town Is Bridging Humor and Climate Education on YouTube (Exclusive)Climate Town is a YouTube channel, hosted by Rollie Williams, filled with episodes that make climate education hilarious.
Finland’s Climate Goals Are Ambitious but Hopefully AchievableFinland recently set a new climate goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2035, and carbon negativity moving forward — here's how that works.
Climate Protesters Arrested for Storming the Queen's Trooping the Colour ParadeAs festivities kicked off at the Trooping the Colour parade, Animal Rebellion U.K. protesters disrupted the event — resulting in multiple arrests.
Climate Change Could Completely Consume the Siberian Tundra by 2050, Studies ShowUnfortunately, the Siberian Tundra could be completely destroyed by 2050.
The Pros and Cons of Using Water Pipelines to Mitigate DroughtsA proposed water pipeline would carry water from the Pacific Ocean into Utah's almost-dried up Great Salt Lake, which has been facing a major shortage.
When Exactly Did Climate Change Start? Inside the History of Climate StudiesWhen did climate change start? The Anthropocene Epoch, an "unofficial interval of geologic time," began in 1950. What about climate change?
These Shocking Facts About Climate Change Might Be a Wake-Up CallThe climate crisis is ever-looming, but how much do you really know about what's happening? Here are a few shocking facts that could serve as a wake-up call.
How Climate Change Caused the Great Barrier Reef's Latest Mass Coral Bleaching EventWhat is happening to the Great Barrier Reef, exactly? New data from the Australian government show that climate change has caused coral bleaching across most of the Great Barrier Reef.
How Humanity Could Actually Halt Climate Breakdown, According to Peter Kalmus (Exclusive)Peter Kalmus' recent speech protesting big banks and fossil fuels went viral — check out our interview with the NASA climate scientist.
John and Ann Doerr's $1.1 Billion Donation Will Start a Climate School at StanfordJohn Doerr and Ann Doerr just donated $1.1 billion dollars to fund a new climate change school at Stanford University.
Devastating Heat Wave in India and Pakistan Highlights Need for Clean EnergyWhat is the reason for this heat wave in India and Pakistan? As you could probably imagine, the climate crisis and global heating are at play here.
Is Net Zero the Same as Carbon Neutral? Let's Discuss Their Differences and Why They MatterTerms such as "net zero" and "carbon neutral" have been thrown around in discussions of the climate crisis, but do they hold the same meaning? Here's the scoop.
One-Fifth of Reptiles Could Go Extinct Thanks to Climate Change, New Research SaysAre reptiles about to go extinct? New research says that one fifth of species worldwide could face extinction, with the ongoing climate crisis.
'Youth v Gov' Documentary, About Youth-Led Climate Lawsuit, Is Coming to NetflixThe newest documentary coming to Netflix is 'Youth v Gov,' about the 'Juliana v. The United States of America' lawsuit and the youth involved in it.
Climate Activist Wynn Alan Bruce Has Died After Protesting Outside the Supreme CourtClimate activist Wynn Alan Bruce self-immolated outside of the Supreme Court, and unfortunately has died, in protest of the ongoing climate crisis.
The IPCC Climate Change Report Sheds Light on How Wind Patterns Could Change DrasticallyIn 2021, the IPCC published a climate change report documenting the ways wind patterns will change for the worse. Here's what you need to know.
Climate Scientist Asks Twitter Users to Describe the Climate Crisis in One WordNASA Climate Scientist, Peter Kalmus, polled Twitter users on what one word they would use to describe the ongoing climate crisis.
Obama Channels David Attenborough in Netflix's 'Our Great National Parks'Barack Obama serves as the narrator for a new documentary series on Netflix, 'Our Great National Parks,' which debuted on April 13, 2022.
On Neptune, Dramatic Temperature Changes Leave Scientists PuzzledOn Neptune, dramatic temperature changes were observed as part of a new study, leaving scientists puzzled.