Climate change is defined as the change in average weather conditions, such as temperature and rainfall, in a region over a long period.
The Earth’s climate has constantly been changing. The changes that occur due to natural causes are slow and gradual. However, in the past 100 years, human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, have increased the global air temperatures on our planet’s surface by 2 °F (1).
Scientists believe that if this pattern continues, it could lead to the deaths of more than 250,000 people every year and force 100 million people into poverty by 2030 (2).
Read this post as we tell you the consequences and causes of climate change. We also give you some facts about climate change for kids and tell you a few ways to slow down climate change.
What Are The Consequences Of Climate Change?
- The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) predicts that increases in global mean temperature of less than 1.8 to 5.4 °F (1 to 3 °C) above 1990 levels will produce beneficial impacts in some regions and harmful ones in others.
- Mountain glaciers and ice sheets are melting at an alarming rate throughout the world, particularly around the Earth’s poles.
- The melting of ice causes a rise in sea level. Global sea level has risen by about eight inches since record-keeping began in 1880 and is forecast to rise another one to eight feet by 2100.
- The rising temperatures affect wildlife and their habitats. The diminishing ice is posing a challenge to the Adélie penguin in Antarctica, where some populations towards the western peninsula have drastically collapsed by more than 90%.
- Global warming is most likely to be one of the most significant causes of species extinction. According to IPCC, an average of 1.5 °C rise in global temperatures may put several plant and animal species at the risk of extinction.
- Due to climate change, some species, such as polar bears, are at a very high risk of extinction.
- Disease outbreaks have become more common due to increased growth of pollen-producing ragweed, poor air quality, and an increase in mosquitoes.
- Storms and hurricanes are becoming stronger, and droughts and floods are becoming more common due to climate change.
- There are predictions that less freshwater will be available on the planet as the glaciers melt. Glaciers store about three-fourths of the world’s freshwater.
- Changes can also be seen in the oceans as they absorb about 30% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Climate change has resulted in the oceans becoming more acidic, thus affecting marine life.
- The rising sea levels caused due to the melting of ice sheets and glaciers and thermal expansion put the coastal areas at risk of storm surges and erosions. About 44% of the world’s population lives within 150 kilometers of the coast.
What Causes Climate Change?
- The burning of fossil fuels, such as gas, oil, and coal, releases enormous amounts of carbon dioxide directly into the atmosphere, resulting in the greenhouse effect, which is the warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat that radiates from Earth toward space.
- The more the heat is trapped in the atmosphere, the more the temperature on the Earth’s surface rises.
- Deforestation is another major cause of climate change. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. The cutting down of trees has led to more imbalance.
- The production of cement contributes to 2% of our total carbon dioxide emissions. It is another major cause of climate change.
- The use of commercial and organic fertilizers, nitric acid production, and biomass burning are other major causes of climate change.
Climate Change Facts For Kids
- Globally, 2016 and 2020 were the hottest years on record.
- In the past century, the overall global temperatures have increased by 1 °C.
- The five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2015.
- Forests and trees are called ‘carbon sinks’ as they take in carbon dioxide. But, due to deforestation and other human activities, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.
- The acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30% since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
- Greenhouse gases help keep the heat closer to the Earth’s surface, making it livable for living things. But the over emission of these gases due to the burning of fossil fuels has led to global warming.
- Polar bear populations are projected to decline by 30% by 2050.
- Greenland lost an average of 279 billion tons of ice per year during the period 1993-2019.
- According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, in the last 50 years, the US’s temperature has increased by 2 °C, and precipitation has increased by 5%.
- When compared to other emissions, 11% of the global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by deforestation.
- Approximately 11% of the world’s population is currently vulnerable to climate change impacts.
- Volcanoes release less than 2% of the equivalent amount of CO2 released by human activities.
- We need to reduce emissions by 7.6% every year until 2030 to prevent warming beyond 1.5 °C.
- Coastal mangroves account for only 0.7% of the world’s forest area, yet they store up to ten times as much carbon per hectare as tropical forest.
- Approximately 800,000 hectares of coastal mangroves are lost every year.
- About 97% of climate scientists believe that human-caused climate change is happening, while 3% of them believe climate change is a hoax.
- In the US, transportation contributes to 29% of greenhouse gases, electricity production contributes to 28 percent, and industrial activity contributes to 22%.
- Antarctica has lost about four trillion metric tons of ice since the 1990s.
What Can Kids Do To Slow Down Climate Change?
Teaching kids some basic facts about global warming makes them more aware and involved. Here, we tell you how children can do their part in slowing down climate change.
- Recycle: Recycling a material uses less energy than making the same product from scratch. While choosing a product, we need to choose those that are 100% recyclable. You could also teach your child about the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
- Conserve Energy: Unplug the gadgets when not in use, adjust the thermostat settings to save power, use dishwashers and washing machines in the power-saving mode, and use energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps.
- Plant for the Planet: Deforestation is one of the leading causes of global warming. Plant more trees to decrease the effects of greenhouse gases. Encourage your children to gift their friends a sapling or a small plant on special occasions. You could also encourage them to plant trees and grow their vegetables and fruits.
- Reducing your carbon footprint: We need to take steps to prevent our carbon footprints in small ways. Encourage children to conserve water and electricity and use bicycles or walk to school. You could also lead by example by carpooling or taking public transport to commute to work.
Climate change is a harsh reality. We have been destroying many natural things around us for our comforts and causing severe damage to nature. For future generations to survive, we need to take steps and teach our kids the importance of saving our planet.
2. Global Warming 101; Natural Resources Defense Council
3. Climate change impacts; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
4. The Effects of Climate Change; NASA
5. Vital Signs; NASA
6. How climate change plunders the planet; Environmental Defense Fund
7. Climate change and health; WHO
8. Human Settlements on the Coast; UN Atlas of the Oceans
9. Causes of Climate Change; WWF
10. The Causes of Climate Change; NASA
11. Causes of climate change; MET Office
12. Climate Change: 11 Facts You Need To Know; Conservation International
13. Climate Change: How Do We Know?; NASA
14. Frequently Asked Questions; NASA
15. Facts about the Climate Emergency; UN Environment Programme
16. 2020 Tied for Warmest Year on Record, NASA Analysis Shows; NASA
17. Scientific Consensus: Earth’s Climate Is Warming; NASA
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