What you need to know about climate change – PLUS 6 things you can do to help!
A girlfriend told me last week that if she was held at gunpoint and forced to explain what climate change was, she would have no way to save her life. It sounds silly and dramatic but also, completely understandable.
Climate change is a complex topic and if you don’t have a degree in environmental science or haven’t sat for hours researching, you might not be able to explain it either.
So today I’m going to give you a quick and simple explanation of what climate change is. Let’s get started…
What is climate change?
Put simply, climate change is the increase of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. This build up causes a change in the way the earth’s climate operates. Now obviously this is complex, but all you really need to know is that more greenhouse gases = change in climate.
What are the effects of climate change?
Increased frequency and intensity of storms, droughts, weird weather patterns, hotter land temperatures, melting polar caps and increased sea level rise are all effects of climate change.
What is CO2 and why is it a problem?
Greenhouse gases are made up of many types of gases, but the main one you need to know about is carbon dioxide (C02). Basically, C02 doesn’t just float away. It lives for thousands of years which is what makes it so dangerous.
You might have heard of ocean acidification or the carbon cycle. What that means is that CO2 has to go somewhere, and a lot of it is absorbed by the ocean as part of the ‘carbon cycle’. The oceans are doing a great job collecting the CO2 we have produced over the years, but now they’re becoming a little like flat, salty soda water – not so nice for all the animals who call them home.
The biggest producers of C02 are:
- The burning of fossil fuels (coal and oil)
- Cement production
This piece is written by Sally Flower, Master of Environment and Climate Change Student at UniMelb
Climate Change Facts Continued…
What is the ‘Greenhouse Effect’?
Before we started burning coal and oil, the sun’s heat could easily leave the earth’s atmosphere, allowing our planet to maintain a relatively stable temperature and enabling humans to thrive.
Yet since the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, the amount of CO2 being produced has skyrocketed, and what hasn’t been absorbed by the ocean or forests is building up in the atmosphere.
We now have a big layer of gas around the earth stopping the sun’s heat from escaping. This is called the greenhouse effect.
Essentially, it’s like we’re trapping ourselves in a sauna with the heat cranked up!
Don’t get me wrong, the power fossil fuels can generate is incredible. Coal and oil have allowed us to create the world we have today. But just like a drug, fossil fuel is starting to hurt us and we need to find an alternative.
Is there any good news about Climate Change?
Fossil fuel companies like BP are converting to energy companies and committing billions of dollars towards renewable power.
Hundreds of city councils around the world have committed to a net zero target and are taking big steps forward.
Most Australians believe climate change is real and want to help. We are witnessing an exciting and powerful shift in awareness!
How can I help slow climate change?
If you’re reading this, chances are you live in Australia, the USA or Canada – three of the world’s highest CO2 emitters. Which means that every change you make is even more crucial and powerful than those in other countries.
6 things you can do right now to slow climate change:
1. Fight Deforestation
2. Talk about Climate Change
Tell one other person about climate change (maybe send them this article!) and encourage them to tell one more.
3. Choose to Reuse
Buy second-hand and reusable products over single-use.
4. Switch to Green Energy
5. Use Your Vote
Vote for people who will work to build an energy grid to foster the growth of renewable energy, fight for renewable solutions and put the future first.
6. Stay Local
Reduce your carbon footprint by simply shopping and travel locally as much as possible.
You have been dealt a strong hand in this game of cards, and have the ability to make a big difference through your actions and your vote.
Play your cards well, and let’s tackle climate change together.
Where to now on your climate change journey?
If you want to join the #fightagainstclimatechange at home, or simply want to live a more sustainable home life, you can: