Environment Erie

Climate Change

What is Climate Change?

Global warming?

Climate Change?

Abrupt Climate Change?

What wording should we be using?

First, what is climate? Not to be confused with weather, climate is the "average weather" over a period ranging from months to thousands or millions of years, where as weather is what is happening outside on any given day.

Throughout the Earth's history there have been patterns of climate change, both warming and cooling, that are naturally occurring. However, beginning late in the 18th century, human activities associated with the Industrial Revolution have also changed the composition of the atmosphere. Scientists have found that those changes in atmospheric composition are connected to the climate patterns that have been altering the environment at an alarming rate and has defined these changes as abrupt climate change.

The climate is now warming so rapidly that some of its effects can be noticed within a single human lifetime. Scientists are largely convinced that human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels, is responsible. Gases such as water vapor, ozone and carbon dioxide (CO2) act like blankets, trapping heat and keeping the earth warm. In a balanced system this gases help to regulate the earth's climate. However, these gases can persist in the atmosphere for decades or even centuries and scientists have found that increased accumulation of this gases can cause abrupt climate change.

Why should we be concerned?

Abrupt changes to our global as well as regional climate affect people, plants and animals. A rapidly warming or cooling climate can change local ecosystems, increase severe storms, change the amount of precipitation, affect public health risks as well as affect global food distributions. The effects of abrupt climate change may vary in severity in different regions.

What can we do as individuals?

  • Change light bulbs. Compact florescent light bulbs use less energy and last longer.
  • Use water effectively. Visit the EPA's Water Sense website for more information.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  • Drive smart. Keep your vehicle tuned up to get the highest fuel economy.
  • Give your car the day off. Use public transportation, car pool, walk or ride a bike.
  • Add green to your back yard. Plant native plants and trees, which use less water, do not require pesticides and fertilizers and help trap carbon.

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