This is a guest post by Neil Stawski of ClimateWise.co . Mr. Stawski believes we aren’t doing enough to protect our planet. He created ClimateWise.co to educate the public and encourage people to take action.
Global warming, climate change, fossil fuels, and greenhouse gases: all things you’ve probably heard about in the news in recent years, and all things that are extremely complicated and hard to understand, especially when there is so much information–and misinformation–spread.
Among the many questions surrounding these topics is the question of what we can do to help stop these changes, and whether or not we can reverse them. Unfortunately, because there is such a gap between what we do and when we feel the effects, it’s nearly impossible to reverse climate change. We can only hope to slow it down.
What we can do, however, is educate ourselves about climate change, learn how to suss out the facts from the opinions, and implement some changes in our own lives that will benefit the Earth for future generations.
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding climate change, as well as answers agreed upon by some of the most experienced scientists in the world.
What is the difference between “global warming” and “climate change”?
Global warming is a term used to indicate the massive rise in the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere over the last several decades due to the increasing use of fossil fuels, which contain carbon dioxide that traps heat. Global warming is a symptom of climate change, which encompasses all the global issues affected by the rising temperatures. These issues include melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and the possible extinction of many plant and animal species.
If global warming exists, why do we still have cold winters?
Global warming is taking place over a period of time, across the entire planet. Although the average temperature of our atmosphere is rising, we will still have cold winters and even snow and ice storms due to changing weather patterns.
Becca says: Check out this cartoon explaining why “what used to be normal now feels too cold.”
How can carbon dioxide be a bad thing if it’s in the air we breathe?
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas found not just in the air we breathe but also in volcanoes, natural springs, and geysers. Without it, the Earth’s atmosphere would be too cold to sustain life–but because it traps heat, too much carbon dioxide makes the Earth too warm. The more warmth there is, the more glaciers and icecaps melt, causing a massive rise in sea levels. Flooding and an unstable, moist atmosphere prone to destructive weather events are very real complications from these changes.
Becca says: Just because carbon dioxide has always been a part of the air we breathe doesn’t mean carbon dioxide is good for us! Remember your elementary school science: People and animals inhale and use oxygen from the air and exhale our waste product of carbon dioxide; plants absorb carbon dioxide, make their food through photosynthesis, and release oxygen. Centuries of cutting down too many trees contributed to the excess of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Breathing too much carbon dioxide kills people. That’s another good reason to keep our atmosphere in balance!
What areas are the hardest hit from climate change?
The fact is, climate change affects the entire globe. Because about half of the world’s population lives within 40 miles of the sea, drastic changes mean a whole lot of people will be hit hard. As far as the United States is concerned, California is already seeing record droughts, which obviously have a negative effect on crops. The northeastern states have experienced a marked increase in major weather events such as hurricanes and blizzards.
What can I do to help?
This is an important question, but fortunately there are several answers.
Reducing the carbon footprint created by your daily activities is a big part of helping our planet. This includes carpooling or using eco-friendly transport, eating less meat, and buying locally (to reduce the carbon emissions involved in shipping and delivering items–when is it greener to buy online?). It also includes eco-friendly changes in your home, such as installing energy-efficient light bulbs, watching your electricity and water usage, and planting trees or a garden to absorb carbon dioxide.
Talk to your local politicians to see what can be done in your hometown to increase efficiency and reduce emissions city-wide.
Consider having some T-shirts printed up to draw attention to the cause, not only when you’re actively working but anytime you wear the shirt in public. When you are raising funds to help the environment or raising awareness of climate change, an effective T-shirt design will let others know you take the issue seriously and have a group dedicated to making a difference.
Global warming and climate change are scary, complicated topics, but it’s important for us to consider all the ways we can help if we’re going to make things better! Do some research and think about the best ways you can contribute.