What is climate change?
Climate change is the major and long-term shift in the earth's weather patterns.
The temperature of the earth is rising and the rate of that increase has been greatest since the industrial revolution. Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere.
By burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil, and by clearing forests, human beings have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere, which is making the planet warmer.
Some people don't believe climate change is happening.
Reputable scientists agree that climate change is real and the evidence is overwhelming.
All over the world, communities are seeing weather patterns and the seasons change.
Does climate change just mean it's getting hotter?
Yes, the planet is getting hotter, but it also means that sea levels are rising and many glaciers are retreating.
The effects of climate change may not be experienced as warmer weather but rather as more extreme weather events. It must also be remembered that climate change is not having the same effect everywhere on earth. That is why it is a global problem that needs local action.
Who is affected by climate change?
The world's poorest communities are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
- Floods destroy houses and belongings, but the poor don't have insurance.
- Diseases carriers, like ticks and mosquitoes, are appearing in new areas.
- Crops fail, leaving people in some parts of the world hungry.
- Food prices rise globally when food crops fail.
However, developed countries are also facing the effects of climate change. Britain suffers increasingly severe floods that communities struggle to cope with, as well as droughts and heatwaves that last for longer. Animals and plants are also changing their behaviour because of the shifting seasons.
What can be done?
Firstly, it is not too late. We must all help to reduce carbon emissions. We can all do small things that, collectively, make a difference.
Secondly, thousands of communities all over the world are having to adapt to climate change. Here in Britain, we can also prepare for extreme weather events. Find out more below.