The relationship between vegetation and climate and weather is absolute. Each is entirely dependent on the other. Climate is a product in no small measure of. Here we address some of the common questions raised about the changing intensity, spatial extent and duration of extreme weather and climate events. Basic answers to basic questions about global warming and the future climate. Meanwhile, the science of climate change is growing ever more robust as researchers zero in on how the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are radically altering Earth’s systems and shaping the future.
For example, a thunderstorm, a snowstorm, and today's temperature all describe weather. What is climate change? Climate change involves significant changes, over several decades or longer, in temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, and other aspects of climate. Weather varies naturally from year to year, so one unusually cold or wet year followed by an unusually warm or dry year would not be considered a sign of climate change.
Climate change involves longer-term trends, such as a gradual shift toward warmer, wetter, or drier conditions. What is the evidence that shows the climate is changing? Hundreds of independent lines of evidence confirm that our climate is changing. For example, scientists have documented long-term changes around the world in temperatureprecipitationsea leveland the amount of heat stored in the ocean. Especially dramatic changes are underway in the Arcticwhere warming is amplified by powerful feedbacks.
Reductions in sea iceland-based ice, and snow cover, along with the thawing of permafrost, are having profound impacts in the Arctic and beyond. Rising sea levels, caused mainly by the expansion of seawater as it warms, along with billions of tons of water added to the ocean each year from melting glaciersice caps, and ice sheets, are affecting coastal communities in many parts of the world, including places like South Florida, Chesapeake Bay, and low-lying communities along the Gulf Coast in the United States.
Changes in the length of growing seasons and pollen seasonsthe timing of bird migrationsand range shifts in plants and wildlife provide still more evidence for recent changes in climate. The Greenhouse Effect Greenhouse gases, such as CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide, act like a blanket around the planet. They trap energy in the atmosphere and cause it to warm. This phenomenon, called the greenhouse effect, is natural and necessary to support life on Earth: But scientists agree that the continuing buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels for energy—will upset the natural energy balance and change Earth's climate, with potentially dangerous risks to human health, infrastructure, the economy, and ecosystems.
How do we know humans are causing climate change? Climate scientists have concluded that humans are largely responsible for the climate change that has occurred since the s. These greenhouse gases are being emitted faster than forests and the oceans can remove them, causing them to build up in the atmosphere.
Red bars show global average land and sea temperatures above the long-term average, and blue bars indicate temperatures below the long-term average. The black line shows the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Models that also account for the greenhouse gases emitted by humans are able to explain this warming.
Why is climate change a serious problem?
Frequently Asked Questions about Climate Change
Heat waves have become more frequent in the United States in recent decades. In addition to heat waves, changes in precipitation patterns, including extreme precipitation events, storms, and floods, are becoming more common and more severe in many regions, and this is expected to continue. Higher temperatures lead to increased rates of evaporation and can lead to more rapid drying of soils. Without reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, longer-term droughts are expected to intensify in much of the Southwest, the Great Plains, and the Southeast.
Over the past 40 years, climate disruptions to agricultural production have increased, and this is expected to continue. Climate change is increasing our exposure to extreme temperatures, extreme weather events; degraded air quality; diseases transmitted through food, water, and insects; and stresses to mental health and well-being. These threats to human health are expected to increase with continued climate change.
The area burned by wildfire in parts of western North America is expected to double or more for each 1. Global sea level has risen by about eight inches since the late s, and is projected to rise another 1 to 4 feet by the end of this century. Flooding is becoming more frequent along the U.
How does climate change affect my health?
Two degrees might still be doable, but it requires significant political will and fast action. Anything beyond that would be much, much worse.
Will taking action make our lives better or safer, or will it only make a difference to future generations? It will make our lives better and safer for sure.
Frequently Asked Questions about Climate Change | Climate Change | US EPA
People that live around the coal power plant are going to have a lot less air pollution, which means less asthma for children, and less time wasted because of chronic or acute diseases.
It will also have important consequences for agricultural productivity. Light rail in Seattle. And then think about cities. We could live in better buildings where appliances are more efficient. And investing in energy efficiency would basically leave more money in our pockets. How will measures to cut carbon emissions affect my life in terms of cost? To build a climate resilient economy, we need to incorporate the three pillars of energy system transformation that we focus on in all the deep decarbonization pathways.
Number one is improving energy efficiency in every part of the economy—buildings, what we use inside buildings, appliances, industrial processes, cars…everything you can think of can perform the same service, but using less energy. What that means is that you will have a slight increase in the price in the form of a small investment up front, like insulating your windows or buying a more efficient car, but you will end up saving a lot more money over the life of the equipment in terms of decreased energy costs.
Tehachapi wind farm, CA. Stan Shebs The second pillar is making electricity, the power sector, carbon-free by replacing dirty power generation with clean power sources. In fact there are already a lot of clean technologies that are at cost parity with fossil fuels— for example, onshore wind is already as competitive as gas—and those costs are only coming down in the future.
We can also expect that there are going to be newer technologies. The Australian deep decarbonization teams have estimated that even with the increased costs of cleaner cars, and more efficient equipment for the home, etc. The third pillar that we think about are clean fuels, essentially zero-carbon fuels. So we either need to electrify everything— like cars and heating, once the power sector is free of carbon—or have low-carbon fuels to power things that cannot be electrified, such as airplanes or big trucks.
But once you have efficiency, these types of equipment are also more efficient, and you should be spending less money on energy.
Saving money depends on the three pillars together, thinking about all this as a whole system. Given that renewable sources provide only a small percentage of our energy and that nuclear power is so expensive, what can we realistically do to get off fossil fuels as soon as possible? There are a lot of studies that have been done for the U. That is the future, but is not that far away. We need to make sure that cars are more efficient, that buildings are more efficient, that cities are built with more public transit so less fossil fuels are needed to transport people from one place to another.