For years, when we referred to long-term shifts in weather patterns and temperatures, we used the term ‘global warming.’ That term caused considerable confusion since climate change encompasses much more than rising temperatures.
As we become more advanced with food production and manufacturing, our negative impact on climate change continues to grow, and so does our need for climate change resources.
Global Warming Statistics
The records and research of scientists and other experts reveal sobering statistics. Consider:
- Global temperatures continue to rise — The Earth’s average surface temperature has risen approximately two degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century. The most significant temperature increase happened over the last 40 years, with the previous seven years seeing the warmest temperatures. The years 2016 and 2020 tied for the warmest year on record. Scientists attribute this to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
- Warming oceans — The Earth stores its extra energy in the sea. Approximately the top 328 feet of ocean soaks up much of the additional warming by showing 0.6 degrees warming since 1969.
- Glaciers and ice sheets continue to shrink — NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment reveals data indicating that Greenland lost approximately 279 tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2019. During the same period, Antarctica lost 148 billion tons of ice annually. Glaciers from around the globe, once clearly visible from Space, continue to disappear.
- Decreased snow cover — Satellite views prove that the Northern Hemisphere’s snow cover measured significantly lower over the past five years, and the snow melts much more quickly.
- Rising sea levels — In the last two decades, the rising rate of sea levels doubled compared to the previous century. The acceleration of rising sea levels gets worse every year.
- Extreme weather events — We continue to see more tornadoes, hurricanes, severe drought, and flooding yearly.
- Increase in the oceans’ acidic levels — Humans began emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with the start of the Industrial Revolution. The oceans absorbed between 20 to 30 percent of the carbon dioxide, increasing the acidity levels of the oceans by thirty percent.
How Human Behavior Affects Climate Change
Though natural occurrences contribute to climate change, the actions of human beings to advance society accelerate the warming of the Earth in the following ways:
- Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon dioxide and methane. The emissions trap the sun’s heat and cause the Earth’s temperatures to rise. We use these fuels for automobiles and heating buildings.
- Clearing our forests releases carbon dioxide. We clear land to raise cattle and provide wood for furniture and paper products.
- Landfills represent a significant source of methane emissions. We readily throw things away, and many of them, such as plastic products and certain chemicals, don’t break down.
- Factory or industrial farms also emit vast amounts of methane and other dangerous gasses into the atmosphere.
Is it possible the Earth would experience the current levels of warming without human influence? Perhaps, anything is possible, but a scientific study indicates the chance is less than one in 100,000.
What Are We Doing To Combat Climate Change?
Organizations that combat climate change
Many nonprofit organizations provide climate change resources to help fight climate change and deal with the adverse effects. These organizations do everything from protecting displaced wildlife, fighting environmental racism and injustice, and cleaning up our landfill areas and oceans. A few examples include:
- The Sierra Club
- World Wildlife Fund
- Clean Water Action
- The Nature Conservancy
- Project AWARE Foundation
The following organizations comprise the Climate Change and Water Partner Organizations. The focus is on providing climate change resources to curtail climate change and its adverse effects:
- Alliance for Climate Education
- Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE)
- Georgetown Climate Center
- Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP)
- Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF)
- Water Research Foundation (WRF)
- Water Utility Climate Alliance
Climate Change Laws and Policies
In the 1960s, the effects of climate change became obvious enough to propel legislation to provide climate change resources. A summarized timeline of climate change laws includes:
- January 1970 — President Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act.
- December 1970 — The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA was created to address air and water pollution concerns.
- October 1972 — President Nixon signed the Clean Water Act.
- December 1973 — President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act.
- December 1974 — President Gerald Ford signed the Safe Drinking Water Act.
- December 1980 — President Jimmy Carter signed the first Superfund Act.
- January 1983 — President Ronald Reagan signed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.
- November 1990 — President George H. W. Bush signed the Pollution Protection Act.
- August 2005 — President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act.
This list represents just a sampling of environmental laws that have been passed over the last several decades, illustrating the importance of the government’s role in protecting the environment and providing climate change resources. Significant amendments to the above legislation continue to pass law throughout the decades.
Current legislation and actions to fight climate change
With the United States returning to the Paris Planet Agreement, the U.S. Congress also moved forward with legislation to fight climate change. The National Climate Emergency Act of 2021 directs the President to declare a national emergency based on climate change. The funding provided by this legislation must go toward mitigating greenhouse gasses, and 40% of the funding for climate change resources must go to marginalized communities.
Climate Change Projects
Brilliant minds in science and engineering continue to work on ideas and projects surrounding renewable energy and bioenergy. Below you’ll find a few examples of the many innovative projects aimed at mitigating climate change:
- Drone planting trees — Biocarbon, a U.K.-based company, came up with a design for a drone that efficiently plants trees. Trees devour greenhouse gasses and decrease the occurrences and effects of dramatic weather events.
- Satellites that spot methane leaks — satellites are still in the developmental stages, but, if utilized, they could reduce methane emissions caused by fracking by up to 50 percent.
- Pumps that cool coral reefs — Due to their sensitivity to temperature changes, coral reefs continue to disappear at alarming rates. An underwater pump that generates cool water offers some relief to these natural wonders.
- Enzymes that break down plastic — An enzyme that promises to speed up the decomposing of plastics significantly could make a difference in our pollution levels and save the life of marine animals.
What Can We Do To Address the Negative Effects of Climate Change?
The United States government and the cooperative effort amongst nations around the globe play a crucial role in fighting the destructive effect of climate change through policy, legislation, and climate change resources. But much of the responsibility lies with the individual and their everyday practices and purchasing decisions.
Conservation tips for individuals
Take a look at the suggestions below to help protect the environment and curtail the effects of climate change on a personal level:
- Recycle plastic, paper, and cardboard.
- Buy meat and poultry from independent farmers that humanely raise their animals without antibiotics.
- When purchasing food, try to avoid plastic and other excessive packaging.
- Drive less and consider purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle.
- Wash clothing in cold water.
- Take shorter showers.
- Water your lawn and garden only when necessary.
- Donate unwanted clothing and other items rather than disposing of them.
- Use environmentally friendly and non-toxic cleaning products. Many of them now come with bottles you purchase only once and refill with dissolvable tablets.
- Use eco-friendly or bamboo paper products such as paper towels, toilet paper, and facial tissue.
What is our civic responsibility when it comes to climate change?
- Review the environmental scorecard for political candidates at all levels and vote accordingly.
- Keep in contact with representatives at all levels regarding your ecological positions.
- Volunteer time or donate money to environmental candidates, causes, and groups.
Want To Know More About Climate Change?
The topic of climate change encompasses aspects of government and legislation, science and technology, and individual responsibility. To become more well-versed on climate change, consider exploring the climate change resources below: