Climate change is a long-term shift in weather conditions identified by changes in temperature, precipitation, winds, and other indicators. Climate change can involve both changes in average conditions and changes in variability, including, for example, extreme events.
Human activity is the main cause of climate change concern. People burn fossil fuels and convert land from forests to agriculture. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, people have burned more and more fossil fuels and changed vast areas of land from forests to farmland.
Burning fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. It is called a greenhouse gas because it produces a “greenhouse effect”. The greenhouse effect makes the earth warmer, just as a greenhouse is warmer than its surroundings.
Carbon dioxide is the main cause of human-induced climate change. It stays in the atmosphere for a very long time. Other greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide, stay in the atmosphere for a long time. Other substances only produce short-term effects.
Not all substances produce warming. Some, like certain aerosols, can produce cooling.
What can be done about climate change?
- Carbon dioxide is the main cause of human-induced global warming and associated climate change.
- It is a very long-lived gas, which means carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere with ongoing human emissions and remains in the atmosphere for centuries.
- Global warming can only be stopped by reducing global emissions of carbon dioxide from human fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes to zero, but even with zero emissions, the global temperature will remain essentially constant at its new warmer level.
- Emissions of other substances that warm the climate must also be substantially reduced. This indicates how difficult the challenge is.
We need to adapt our lifestyles to overcome these growing challenges that climate change is bringing. For this to happen, we should start to create a worldwide culture of sustainable development, where energy is used wisely and efficiently, where a circular economy is a strong bet, as well as durable and eco-friendly products.
One thing is for sure, we need to choose responsibly the products we buy because our demand as consumers influences what we are supplied with.