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Climate Change & Energy



Climate Change Explained

 

Over the last two centuries, industrial activities, deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels have released high concentrations of heat-trapping agents called greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. While a certain amount of greenhouse gas is important to keep our climate warm and livable, these higher concentrations are warming the Earth’s surface to temperatures that threaten life on our planet. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane are two GHGs that have increased dramatically due to human activity.

 

Why Climate Change Matters

The top 10 warmest years on the planet since record-keeping began in 1880 have all occured since 1998. By 2100, the temperature could rise as much as 12F if aggressive, globally-united efforts to control emissions are not put in place. From heat waves and drought in Texas and wildfires and drought in California, to rising sea levels in our coastal communities, climate change isn't coming in the future — it's happening right now, in our own backyards.

Overwhelming scientific consensus and real-life impacts tell us that climate change is real, is caused by human activity, and is a significant threat to our health, economy and environment. Skeptical about that consensus? Get the facts from the experts.

The warming temperatures caused by GHGs are responsible for rising sea levels (from melting glaciers and ice shelves), melting permafrost, changes in the distribution of plants and animals, and the lengthening of seasons. Scientists are also increasingly confident in linking climate change to the catastrophic storms, droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes we’ve experienced in the last few years.

Climate change is already impacting our health and increasing the risk of some infectious diseases— particularly those diseases occurring in warm areas — including malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and encephalitis.

Other concerns, according to EarthShare member Natural Resources Defense Council, include deadly heat waves, drought, food and water shortages, and international conflict. Rising sea levels, desertification and depleted aquifers could displace millions of people from their homes.

The U.S.'s own Department of Defense has clarified that climate change has a dramatic impact on national security: "Global climate change will aggravate problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten stability in a number of countries.." -- from a report provided to Congress in 2015 by the Defense Department.

During and following the industrial revolution, we acquired most of our energy—to build our cities, to transport goods and people, and more—through the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil. Fossil fuels are a finite, unsustainable source of energy and burning them produces the GHGs that lead to global warming. To solve these problems, EarthShare members are working not only on advocating for renewable energy, but also for lessening our waste through better energy efficiency and design.

 

What You Can Do

 

Though the facts of climate change are sobering, it’s not too late to make a difference. Here at EarthShare, we’re committed to supporting our member organizations' efforts to address climate change and scale up bold energy solutions. By supporting these organizations, you can make the world a better place now and for future generations.

Get involved::

 

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