What is climate change?

It is a change which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparative time periods.

The planet’s climate has constantly been changing over geological time, with significant fluctuations of global average temperatures.

However, this current period of warming is occurring more rapidly than any past events. Most of the scientists agree that global warming is mostly man-made: 97% of climate scientists have come to this conclusion.  It has become clear that humanity has caused most of the last century’s warming by burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, gas and oil, which has increased the concentration of greenhouse gases, to power our modern lives. This, coupled with other activities like clearing land for agriculture, cutting down forests and farming livestock, is causing the average temperature of our planet to increase.

The main driver of climate change is the greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases are at the highest levels they have ever been over the last 800,000 years. Some gases in the Earth’s atmosphere act like the glass in a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s heat and stopping it from leaking back into space and causing global warming. Many of these greenhouse gases occur naturally, but human activity is increasing the concentrations of some of them in the atmosphere, in particular: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases. This adds enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to those naturally occurring in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.

This rapid rise is a problem because it’s changing our climate at a rate that is too fast for living things to adapt to and scientists are certain of the link between greenhouse gases and global warming. Climate change involves not only rising temperatures, but also more frequent and intense extreme weather events, rising sea levels, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, hotter days, warming and acidifying of the oceans and a range of other impacts.

Continuing in this way we will soon be doomed to the extinction and destruction of our planet: it is time that each of us, in his own sphere, do something concrete.

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Flavia Russo


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