5 Climate Change Facts Everyone Should Know
Author: Gabi Jonikas
Climate change is the result of human activity that has taken place since the Industrial Revolution, as the energy needed for mass production has led to the release of heat trapping gases that have caused global warming and an increase in disastrous weather. Global warming, also referred to as climate change, is not only causing our planet to warm, but also a wide variety of natural disasters worldwide. Here are five facts that you should know about climate change to be an informed citizen.
1. Global warming causes the melting of ice, which leads to a cycle that causes more warming
The greenhouse gases that humans have added to the atmosphere have caused the global average temperature to increase. Billions of tons of arctic ice melt each year, and by 2035 it is predicted there will be no ice remaining in the Arctic. As more ice melts, more ice will melt. Because ice is white, the surface area of the Earth covered by ice bounces light back out to the atmosphere rather than absorb it. However, now that more ice has melted, more heat is absorbed into the ocean rather than reflected. As there is less white ice surface area, the ocean is heating up more rapidly. This melting is leading to rising sea levels and many native animals losing their homes.
2. Wildfires in California and Australia in the past year have been caused by climate change, and there are more fires to be expected in the future
The Western portion of the United States, as well as Australia, are known for their sensitivity to wildfires due to hot temperatures and dryness. In order for wildfires to start, there must be the right weather, fuel, and spark. Climate change has allowed for temperatures hot enough that once a spark begins, if it is near fuel such as vegetation in a forest, it is easy for wildfire to erupt and quickly get out of control.
3. Over one third of the species on Earth are likely to become extinct if heat-trapping greenhouse gases will be continually added to Earth’s atmosphere at the current rate
The changing climate is causing major changes in local weather. Habitats where animals live are not exempt from this change of weather or the increased likelihood of natural disasters in the areas they live. Unfortunately, millions of species of animals are in the process of going extinct because of the changing climate. In order for some of these species to be saved, federal regulations would need to be put in place to stop humans from interfering in animal habitats. The proposition to drill in an arctic wildlife refuge is one example in a long pattern of humans prioritizing exploiting the resources of the Earth rather than protecting animal species from going extinct.
4. Climate change leads to a higher likelihood of more frequent natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, droughts, floods and earthquakes
It seems obvious that higher temperatures can lead to more droughts, as high temperatures are causing the weather throughout the entire world to be warmer. However, drought is not the only natural disaster that is occurring because of climate change, and is, in fact, one of the milder disasters compared to those that can destroy communities and wildlife. The water vapor that evaporates into the atmosphere because of warmer temperatures is the fuel for more natural disasters that are destroying the homes of people around the world.
5. Though human action is the cause of our changing climate, the lack of regulation has allowed corporations to continue destructive business practices
Unfortunately, there are not many governments throughout the world that have worked to address climate change. Although there are some solutions that have been proposed, such as the potential to stop the melting of and refreeze arctic ice, these solutions would require so much financial and other resources that they are intimidating to even nations interested in fighting climate change. As long as we humans continue mass livestock farming, the destruction of rainforests, and burning of fossil fuels, climate change related issues will only become more common.
Not everyone knows the extent to which climate change is impacting the Earth, but it is becoming an increasingly urgent issue that needs to be addressed by our government. In the hope that more individuals and businesses can help fight climate change, it is important for everyone to be informed on its many effects before it is too late.