As of 2019, one of the biggest debates between politicians and citizens alike is whether climate change is real or not. Climate change, which is also known as global warming, is identified as the rise in average surface temperatures on Earth, which can occur from a variety of different factors. Research and evidence from organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U.S Global Change Research Program, and The U.S Environmental Protection Agency prove that climate change is in fact real, and impacting the Earth and human life at an alarming rate.
Causes of Climate Change
Based off of evidence inquired from the research and studies conducted by environmental organizations, it is shown that humans are most likely the main cause of climate change. Humans rely heavily on the usage of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, in everyday life, but there are many negative repercussions to this usage. Fossil fuels release large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air, which then get trapped within the atmosphere. This causes an increase in temperatures, which can lead to natural disasters, a rise in sea levels, the melting of ice caps, and an increase in droughts and wildfires.
In addition to fossil fuel use, other human activities can lead to climate change as well. Deforestation, the change of land use, and agriculture also lead to a large release of greenhouse gas emission into the atmosphere. There has been about a 40% increase in the amount of carbon dioxide released into Earth’s atmosphere over the past few decades, primarily in the industrial era. While humans are trying to grow and produce enough food for the entire population, there is a prominent increase of air and water pollution, as well as overfishing and overhunting. These effects harm animal populations and create an imbalance of Earth’s ecosystems.
![elephants](https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2019/11/22/13/55/background-4644934_960_720.jpg "Elphants holding each other's tail")
There are many factors that are measured by scientists and researchers, which give support to the fact that climate change is actually happening. There has been a noticeable rise in the surface temperature of the Earth, as well as an increase in ocean temperatures. The surface temperature of Earth has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit in a little over a century, where most of that warming transpired within the past 35 years. The temperature of the top 700 meters of the oceans on Earth have warmed more than 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit within the past 50 years.
Warmer ocean and surface temperatures have resulted in the melting of ice caps and the shrinking of ice sheets, where hundreds of billions of tons of ice are lost per year at the coldest locations on Earth, such as Antarctica and Greenland. Ice glaciers and sea ice are also retreating around the world as ice and snow are melting at rapid rates every year. This extreme melting of snow and ice leads to a rise in sea level, which causes flooding and harms coastal land and environments.
An increase in natural disasters and extreme weather events is also a big sign that climate change is occurring. In the United States, there has been an amplified amount of severe precipitation events over the past few decades. In dryer areas, sizable wildfires have been occurring more often, and are lasting longer than they have in the past. When these predominantly dry areas experience elongated periods of high temperatures, they also experience longer droughts, which lead to these more intense wildfires.
How Humans Can Help
Even though climate change is inevitable and will occur even without the impacts of humans, the human population as a whole is speeding up the process drastically with their actions. There are a couple things that humans can do in their day-to-day life to help, such as using as much renewable energy as possible, like solar or wind power, and investing in energy-efficient products and appliances. Both of these actions help to reduce the environmental footprint that humans create, and reduces the amount of carbon pollution they produce. Humans can also try to limit their transportation use as much as possible by walking, biking, carpooling, or utilizing public transportation options to their destinations on a consistent basis.