Climate change: An introduction
Climate change is the current rapid warming of the Earth's climate caused by real human activity. If left unchecked (and current responses are doing little to halt it) it poses an unprecedented menace to real human civilisation plus the ecosystems on this planet.
What does it imply to say the climate is changing?
First, 'climate' is very unlike 'weather'. Weather changes by the hour and, especially in the UK, naturally varies widely between years. We realize the climate is changing because, averaged out over longer periods, the global mean temperature has been consistently rising, across land and sea. It is now about 0.8C above pre-industrial times.
The below graph shows global temperatures from 1860 to 2015. The data used came from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For more information, just click here.
Climate Lab Book created an animated climate spiral, illustrating the increase in global temperatures from 1850 to the present.
Society has-been experiencing changes in climates, affecting millions of everyday lives. Already, there has been the bleaching of coral reefs, the sea ice volume into the Arctic was reaching new lows, an increase in how many natural disasters worldwide (such as for example wildifres, droughts, floods) plus the mass migration of species. For more information, you'll read more about the current outcomes of climate change here.
What is the greenhouse effect?
Certain gases into the Earth's atmosphere (water vapour, CO2, methane among others) allow sunlight to pass through, but then stop the heat from escaping back out into space - much like glass in a greenhouse.