What is climate change?
Climate change is about large-scale, long-term changes to the earth's climate. In the past, it has happened naturally. But recent warming of the climate is being driven by human activities like burning fossil fuels. These release greenhouse gasses which trap energy from the sun and warm the earth. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate change as a "change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.“
What is global warming?
There has been loads of talk about how our climate is changing, with scientists warning us all the time that these changes are happening right now and they are harming living and non-living things on Earth. For example, there are places that were really, really cold and now they’re getting warmer. On the other hand, there are places that are really hot and they’re getting colder. This is called global warming.
What is the greenhouse effect?
Sometimes people build greenhouses, which is a small glass house to grow flowers or trees. They build them to keep that hot sun in there and not escape. The Earth is like a glasshouse, with some important gases that keep us warm like water vapour, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. When the sun heats the earth, these gases make sure that the heat is kept on the surface of the Earth. Without these gases, the heat would escape back into space and our temperatures down here would be about 16⁰C colder.
What can climate change do?
Global Warming causes land and water to expand because of the heat, and it also causes ice sheets to melt. When lots of ice melts it becomes water and then goes into streams, rivers, lakes and seas. This means that our water levels are rising. This could cause floods. Our weather can be more extreme where we could have more droughts, or severe storms and heavy rain. Climate change can be difficult for plants and animals, for example where polar bears and penguins live in icy conditions and those ice sheets start to melt, they’ll have nowhere to live.
How is climate change affecting the UK?
Climate change is a global crisis and is already affecting us in the UK. Impacts include more intense heat waves and heavier rain which in turn affect health and agriculture and change flood risk. In West Lindsey we have experienced instances of severe flooding and these events are occurring with greater frequency.
What does the science say?
The most recent influential report on climate change was produced by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2018. In a paper entitled ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C’ the Panel advised that meeting a 1.5 °C target rise is possible but would require “deep emissions reductions and rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” Furthermore, the report found that "limiting global warming to 1.5 °C compared with 2 °C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being" and that a 2 °C temperature increase would exacerbate extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, coral bleaching, and loss of ecosystems, among other impacts. The report also showed that, for global warming to be limited to 1.5 °C, "Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching 'net zero' around 2050.“