Climate change is a large-scale, long-term shift in weather patterns across the world.

Since the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s, humans have accelerated this change through the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Scientists have already observed CO2 levels to be at their highest in 2 million years. At the time of writing, we are at 416 ppm.

Graph showing an increase in CO2 levels since 1960

Image caption: Graph showing the increase in CO2 in parts per million since 1960. Source: NOAA.

It is indisputable that human activities are causing climate change

~ IPCC report 2021

This has disrupted the atmospheric balance and has caused global temperatures to rise at a rate much faster than we’ve seen before, making it harder to adapt to the changes and contributing to an ecological crises.

Graph showing increase in temperatures

Image caption: Graph showing the change in temperatures in England since 1884. Source: Show Your Stripes

Impacts of climate change

The impacts of climate change caused by this atmospheric imbalance are already happening, including more frequent and intense heat and rainfall events, increase in droughts in some regions, more frequent forest fires and a warmer, more acidic ocean. These changes impact habitats for nature, and as a result, 15% of UK species are at risk of extinction.

We are already observing:

  • Sea levels are rising at their fastest rate in 3,000 years.
  • Arctic sea ice is at its lowest in 1,000 years, with a 40% decrease in sea ice since 1979.
  • Glaciers are retreating at their fastest in 2,000 years, with a global retreat since the 1990’s.

Solutions to climate change

To limit global warming, strong reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are necessary. If the world manages to achieve global net zero by 2050, it is ‘extremely likely’ that global temperature increase can be limited to below 2C.

~ IPCC report 2021

Nature is a vital part of this solution, locking in carbon, protecting homes from flooding and cooling our cities. By halting the loss and degradation of wildlife habitats we have a better chance to limit warming and conserve wildlife.

There is still something we can do to limit the severity of this change, if only we act NOW.

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