Climate change is the long-term shift in the average temperature of the Earth's climate. It can be caused by a number of factors, including natural processes and human activities.
The largest contributors are greenhouse gases emitted by human activity. These cause warming by trapping the sun's heat in the atmosphere.
Climate change is caused by human activity.
Human activity has increased the amount of heat-trapping pollution called greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This traps heat from the sun and keeps the planet warmer.
The greenhouse effect is the biggest driver of climate change today. Natural greenhouse gases, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide (CO2), absorb heat from the sun's rays.
Burning coal, oil and gas to produce energy and power transport releases these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Deforestation, farming and other forms of land clearing also release greenhouse gases.
These emissions are changing the global climate in ways that are different from those seen during previous warm periods of Earth's history.
This change is causing extreme weather like heavy rain and droughts, long-term shifts in temperature and sea level rise. It is also affecting the way people live.
Climate change is caused by greenhouse gases.
The main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, trap heat radiation escaping from the Earth's surface. As a result, global temperatures are increasing at an accelerating rate.
As we produce and burn fossil fuels, carbon dioxide is emitted into the air in greater quantities than at any time since human civilization began. It is the single largest contributor to climate change based on its concentration in the atmosphere and its effects on reradiating heat to the Earth's surface.
In addition to CO2, the other major greenhouse gases are methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases like ozone. The concentrations of these gases vary greatly over time.
Climate change is caused by other factors.
While many factors contribute to climate change, there are a few key feedbacks that make the overall effect much worse. These include increased concentrations of greenhouse gases, changes in water cycles and shifts in vegetation patterns.
Climate change also affects habitats and the health of animals, plants and ecosystems. Some species are adapting, but others may become endangered or extinct because of warming temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and ocean acidification (a buildup of carbon dioxide in the oceans).
Keeping climate change at bay isn't easy, but we can make a difference through individual choices and collective action. This means demanding that governments and businesses change their policies, business practices and investments.
Climate change is caused by natural factors.
There are many natural factors that can change the climate, like variations in solar output, changes in Earth's orbit, and volcanic eruptions. These changes can cause weather patterns to vary, but the long-term trends that are caused by human activities are much faster and more pronounced than those that occur naturally.
A major human cause of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels, like coal and oil, that release heat-trapping gases into the air. Increasing the amount of these gases in our atmosphere is raising global temperatures and melting the ice caps that protect the planet from the sun's heat.
These greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, absorb the energy that comes from the sun. They are similar to the glass in a greenhouse, which traps heat and keeps plants warm.