5 Climate Change Facts to Get You Thinking about Our Planet

A list of climate change facts and how you can do your part for the planet.

Feb 23, 2016
climate change facts

Get the facts on climate change and learn more about what you can do for the planet (Shutterstock)

The earth’s climate is always changing  - and that change can occur in a matter of a few hours or over millions of years. Currently, the earth is experiencing a rise in the average global temperature, known as global warming. Climate change is a complex concept with many contributing factors - which is why we’re now breaking it down for you. These five climate change facts will give you a better idea of the state of our planet, and what you can do to help.

1. THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT IS ACTUALLY A GOOD THING

You may have heard the term “greenhouse effect” being tossed around in climate change discussions. This is because the expansion of the greenhouse effect - or when greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, are trapped in the atmosphere - is considered the main cause of the current global warming trend. While too many trapped greenhouse gases (caused largely by the over-emittance of fossil fuels) are a contributor to climate change, without the greenhouse effect, the temperature on earth would be too cold to support life.
DOING YOUR PART: Start off by taking this quiz to determine your carbon footprint. If your results show you have a moderate or high day-to-day impact on the environment, you may want to consider making some adjustments to your daily routine. For example, bike or walk to work, instead of drive, greenify your apartment, and remember to recycle.

2.  HUMAN ACTIVITIES ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

Over 95 percent of climate scientists agree that human activity is the cause climate change - this type of climate change is referred to as anthropogenic climate change. The burning of coal and petroleum, which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, is the greatest anthropogenic contributor to climate change, followed by deforestation.
DOING YOUR PART: Be mindful about where and how the products you use are made. When possible, purchase your goods from ethical shopping websites and educate yourself on how to shop organic.

Woman shopping for organic foods - climate change facts

Shopping for organic, locally-grown foods is one way to reduce your environmental impact (Shutterstock) 

3. THE 2015 U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE IN PARIS WAS MONUMENTAL

In November, 2015, nearly 200 countries came together in Paris to discuss climate change. The resulting pact was the first to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions. The key measures of the agreement include limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees celsius, reviewing progress every five years, and contributing $100 billion a year in climate finance to developing countries by 2020.
DOING YOUR PART: Help your country achieve its long-term climate change goal! Consider a degree in environmental studies or research opportunities to volunteer in environmental conservation.

4.  MANY COUNTRIES ARE TAKING MAJOR STEPS TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE

Several countries are taking climate change into their own hands and instituting laws, programs, and initiatives to reduce their environmental impact. For instance, countries like Spain, Germany and Ireland are making their major cities car-free, Denmark recently broke the world record for wind power, and France is mandating all new buildings to include green roofs.
DOING YOUR PART: Try out any of these nine easy things you can do for the planet today, or, if you’re ready for a bigger commitment, start taking steps towards a zero waste lifestyle.  

denmark wind mills - climate change facts

Denmark produced 42 percent of its energy from wind turbines in 2015 (The Guardian)

5.  REDUCING CLIMATE CHANGE CONTRIBUTORS CAN HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON HEALTH

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions can improve lung function and reduce cases of chronic bronchitis and asthma. Over time, these health benefits could positively impact the economy, since reducing emissions also reduces the incidence of health problems related to these emissions. A team of scientists at the Berkeley Lab, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, RAND Corp., and the University of Washington calculated that the economic benefit of reduced health impacts from greenhouse gas reduction strategies in the U.S. range between $6 and $14 billion annually in 2020.
DOING YOUR PART: Get a head start on reducing emissions by joining a carpool or car share, or, if you live in a busy city with a lot of traffic, considering buying household plants that will help clean the air in your living space.

Mirele writes about everything related to doing good, with a particular interest in volunteering and social entrepreneurship, informed by her background in eco tourism.

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