Global warming refers to the ongoing rise in global average temperature near Earth's surface. It is caused mostly by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is causing climate patterns to change.
Climate change refers to any significant change in climate lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, that occur over several decades or longer.
Climate change is happening
Our Earth is warming. Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.5°F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 0.5 to 8.6°F over the next hundred years. Small changes in the average temperature of the planet can translate to large and potentially dangerous shifts in climate and weather.
The evidence is clear. Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in weather and climate . Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes - oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment. The weather will become increasingly violent...intense rain, hail or snowfall; more violent thunderstorms and hurricanes. An increasing number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have also been attributed to reactions by the planet to climate change.
Humans are largely responsible for recent climate change
Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy, although deforestation, industrial processes, and some agricultural practices also emit gases into the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around Earth, trapping the sun's energy in the atmosphere and causing it to warm. This phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect. The buildup of greenhouse gases can change Earth's climate and result in dangerous effects to human health and welfare and to natural ecosystems.
The choices we make today will affect the amount of greenhouse gases we put in the atmosphere in the near future and for years to come.
We have created a dangerous new world for our children to live in. We owe it to them to find the solutions before they are left to clean up our mess and save the planet.
Let's not leave it to the kids to save the world