What is Climate Change?

Climate Change, or global warming (sometimes called anthropogenic global warming, which) is the process by which the world’s climate is changing. It goes like this:

Carbon is supposed to exist in a cycle. So the amount of carbon that goes into the atmosphere (like when we breathe or burn stuff) should get re-absorbed by trees, soil, and oceans. The problem is that since we learned to extract fossil fuels (coal and oil), we’ve been burning them, which adds more carbon to the atmosphere that doesn’t get re-absorbed back in to the system.

Original Infographic: James Powell. Updated: UHC

Original Infographic: James Powell. Updated: UHC

So carbon is being added to the atmosphere and staying there. But carbon is a Green House Gas, meaning that it traps heat. As the sun’s rays warm up the planet, less and less heat is escaping, so the average global temperature is increasing.

In fact, of the 14 hottest years on record, 12 of them have happened this millennium. Of the 13 years we’ve had since 2000, 12 of them have joined the record books.

All this extra heat means there’s more energy in the atmosphere, so we’re more likely to get more extreme weather, such as hurricanes, and storms. It’s likely that there will be more droughts, leading to crop failures, and famines. It’s all very scary stuff.

What you’ve just read are facts. You could ring up the science departments of your local university, or your national scientific academy and they would tell you the same thing (albeit in more detail). There is a strong scientific consensus.

But you’d be forgiven for thinking there wasn’t. A lot of very rich people will lose a lot of money if governments acted on climate change. So they spend a lot of money ensuring that the status quo remains, even if it means the rest of us suffer.

But climate change is a fact, and it’s up the us, the people, do stop it.