So what causes Climate Change?
Climate change is the rise in average global temperature and changes in rainfall patterns and other weather patterns over time. It is caused by the ‘Greenhouse Effect’ which is a natural process where a blanket of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere lets in the suns energy (in the form of ultraviolet and visible light) and the blanket traps heat and warms the earth so that life can be sustained.
The atmosphere has been relatively well balanced for thousands of years until the industrial revolution, human influence has now upset the balance and as a result our planet is warming. There are now more gases in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels that are preventing the suns radiation being reflected back into the atmosphere, instead it is reflected back to earth causing warming.
There are six greenhouse gases;
- carbon dioxide (CO2)
- methane (CH4)
- nitrous oxide (N2O)
- hydrofluorocarbons (HCFs)
- perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
- sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
Methane is around twenty times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas but much less is emitted along with other gases in the list above.
The main gas responsible for recent climate change is carbon dioxide (CO2). Human activity such as clearing forests, agricultural activity, and burning fossil fuels have all added to the concentrations of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. You will often find the terms carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions used almost synonymously. This is because carbon dioxide is one of the most important greenhouse gases creating the biggest impact. The Earth’s climate has experienced natural changes over millennia but this global atmospheric warming brought about by additional CO2 release is beginning to change the Earth’s climate in ways which have never been experienced by humankind.