Climate change matters because it affects all life on Earth, from humans and animals to plants and the environment. It leads to extreme and unpredictable weather patterns that can be harmful to humans and ecosystems.
This article will explore why climate change matters and how it affects the planet, why it is an important issue, and how we can make a difference with simple adjustments like a shift towards renewable energy that helps mitigate climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
What is Climate Change?
Climate change is the significant variation of average weather conditions over several decades or more. While natural weather trends vary over the short term, climate change is more of a long-term phenomenon that includes impacts from human activities and natural causes such as ocean currents, volcanic eruptions, solar variations, and more.
While some people use global warming as a synonym for climate change, this is not entirely accurate. Global warming implies that climate change is about increasing temperatures, whereas some areas are actually getting cooler in the short term as a result of the changing climate.
Instead, climate change manifests itself in a multitude of ways and in different degrees all over the globe. Depending upon where you live, those destructive events include extreme heat, record floods, hurricanes, rising sea levels, wildfires, and raging storms. In short, climate change poses a danger to each one of us, and the ability of future generations to live on Earth.
For more in-depth information, read our “What is Climate Change?” article.
Why is Climate Change an Important Issue?
The Earth has survived many transformations in its billions of years of existence, but the current climate change trends are taking their toll. The costs of climate change creep higher and higher for the long-term health of plant, animal, insect, and human life. Mitigating climate change is essential if we want to ensure that future generations will have the ability to live on a healthy planet.
However, mitigating climate change is a complex and nuanced issue involving the entire planet, complete with potentially disastrous consequences. The current targets set out by the Paris Agreement and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate are challenging to meet, especially given current trends, as they include staying within a global average temperature of 1.5 degree Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming and achieving net-zero carbon dioxide CO2 emissions by 2050.
People must recognize the benefits of transitioning to eco-friendly practices like recycling and energy efficiency. Since everyone has an essential role to play in managing Earth’s climate crisis, we must unite as a global community to create a better world.
What are the Biggest Ways that Climate Change Affects the Planet?
Climate change is transforming our planet, and extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and wildfires are becoming more common. Most of these issues have been caused by humans adding heat-trapping greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) to Earth’s atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion. This greenhouse effect as levels rise directly causes global warming, which negatively impacts the natural rhythms of the climate.
While climate change affects us all, the economically disadvantaged who have contributed the least to climate change often bear the greatest brunt of its effects:
Increase in Extreme Weather Events
Climate change is the primary culprit behind the increase in extreme weather events we are currently experiencing. Global warming has made some regions warmer and others wetter or drier than they used to be.
The consequences of these changes in the weather patterns have significant implications on how we go about our daily lives, including:
- Where we live
- How we eat
- How we travel
- How we work
Reduced Food Supplies and Increased Food Prices
Climate change leads to extreme floods and droughts that regularly destroy farms and crops worldwide, with consequences that impact all farmers across the United States and around the globe. For example, 1 in 4 people in Africa’s Lake Chad Basin lack enough food because of increasing droughts in a region that is warming at 1.5 times the global rate, and rare storms recently damaged and destroyed tens of millions of bushels of grain in Iowa.
These severe weather conditions reduce food supplies and increase food prices, thus exposing economically disadvantaged people to hunger. As current trends in climate change escalate, the most significant impacts of global warming on food supply are projected to happen in areas already struggling with food and nutrition issues.
Severe Effects on Human Health
Extreme weather caused by global warming has severe consequences on human health, with both heat waves and cold snaps impacting people who cannot effectively protect themselves from the elements.
Warmer temperatures and floods, which are consequences of global warming, have also led to more diseases worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, climate change will cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year from heat stress, malaria, malnutrition, and diarrhea between 2030 and 2050.
Negative Impact on Ecosystems
Extreme heat has negatively impacted ecosystems all over the globe, with native animals and plants bearing the greatest brunt. The United Nations claims that over 1 million species are at risk of becoming extinct across the globe.
Scientists contend that a 4°F increase could mean more extreme heat waves and Arctic ice-free summers that increase ten-fold. This could lead to the destruction of the world's coral reefs, which are the natural habitat of millions of species.
Deserts are growing in size and becoming even dryer. Forests are also degrading, with rainfall decreasing and wildfires increasing. Ice sheets are shrinking at the north and south poles, with Greenland losing 530 billion tons of ice between 2018 and 2019. Antarctica, located at the South Pole, has lost almost 4 trillion tons of ice since the mid-90s.
The Ocean is "Boiling"
Ocean temperatures have also increased in tandem with soaring land temperatures, and hotter temperatures pose a threat to marine ecosystems. Half of the world's coral reefs have died in the last 30 years, taking with them the diverse marine life that calls the reef home. Scientists project that up to 90% of coral reefs could die in the next 20 years.
Ocean levels have also risen 8 inches in the last 100 years due to the warming of ocean temperatures and melting ice sheets over that time period. The Pacific Islands are under continual threat, and some are projected to become uninhabitable in the future. In the US, global warming has made Miami one of the most vulnerable coastal cities in the world.
Why Climate Change Matters
Climate change represents a significant concern for governments and people around the world due to human activity creating higher-than-normal levels of greenhouse gases in addition to natural sources. According to recent research, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise around the globe.
Governments, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals must come together to combat global warming. We know what causes climate change, and we can defeat it by adopting green energy sources and investing in sustainable living practices.
As individuals, we have a role in solving this predicament. We must come together to fight the rapid growth of climate change and secure the future for the coming generations. We can achieve this by using clean energy sources like solar energy, and reducing the emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels. We can do our part by adopting practices to reduce our carbon footprint in our daily lives.
At Palmetto, we take climate change seriously. Our Mission is to lead the world towards a clean energy future, and stop climate change before we reach an irreversible tipping point. This requires large shifts by entire nations and entire populations, with urgency on a massive scale. But technological advancements have put it within reach.
If you are ready to consider solar power for your home, get started with a Free Savings Estimate, and help the fight against climate change and for the preservation of our natural resources.