So, what’s the deal with climate change? Here’s the lowdown in everyday language:
What’s Climate Change?
Climate change is all about the Earth’s weather and temperatures changing over a long time. Right now, the Earth is about 1.1 degrees Celsius hotter than in the late 1800s.
Blame It on Us
Sure, the climate has shifted over history, but this time it’s our fault. Humans are speeding up the warming process.
It’s because we’re burning a whole bunch of fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas in our homes, factories, and vehicles. When these burn, they release greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), which traps heat in the air.
Since the Industrial Revolution, when we started using lots of fossil fuels, the amount of CO2 in the air has shot up by about 50%.
What’s Already Happening?
That 1.1-degree rise might not sound like a lot, but it’s causing some big problems:
More intense extreme weather, like killer heatwaves and heavy rain
Fast-melting glaciers and ice sheets, which are making sea levels rise
Big drops in Arctic sea-ice
This is messing with people’s lives too. East Africa had its worst drought in 40 years, putting over 20 million folks at risk of starvation. And in 2022, heatwaves in Europe led to more deaths than usual.
The hotter it gets, the worse things will become.
The UN’s climate group, the IPCC, says it’s super important to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. If it hits 2 degrees Celsius, here’s what we might face:
Way hotter days, like 4 degrees warmer in some regions instead of 3 at 1.5 degrees
Sea levels rising higher, affecting about 10 million more people
Losing almost all coral reefs compared to just a big chunk at 1.5 degrees
Double the number of plants and animals struggling with climate changes
The Tipping Point
There’s this thing about tipping points – like a stage where changes might get really quick and can’t be reversed. For instance, if the Greenland Ice Sheet collapses. But where exactly these tipping points are, nobody’s sure.
Around 3.3 to 3.6 billion folks are at high risk due to climate change, according to the IPCC.
It’s usually poorer countries that feel the worst effects because they don’t have many resources to handle it.
Who’s Doing What?
In 2015, almost 200 countries got together in Paris and promised to keep the world’s warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. They aim to reach “net zero” CO2 emissions by 2050. That means cutting as much emissions as possible and taking out what’s left from the air.
Most countries are working towards these net zero goals, but we’re still pumping out lots of greenhouse gases.
The good news? Some progress is happening, like more renewable energy and electric cars.
World leaders get together every year to chat about their climate plans. The next meeting, COP28, is happening in the United Arab Emirates from November 30 to December 12, 2023.
So, while there’s progress in some areas, there’s still a lot to do to tackle climate change. It’s urgent to act fast before things get even hotter!