Defining Climate Change and its Impacts

1618 words (6 pages) Essay in Environmental Studies

23/09/19 Environmental Studies Reference this

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Defining Climate Change

Throughout history, the Earth’s climate has changed drastically with as many as seven cycles of glacial movement occuring in the last 650,000 years. These individual cycles represent the varying phases of climate change, all of which can be attributed to small variations in Earth’s orbit. Furthermore, small variations as such change the amount of solar energy the Earth can receive and today that latest variation is known as the “greenhouse effect”. To put it simply, this effect occurs when warmth results from the atmosphere trapping heat that radiates from Earth toward space. Climate change has affected the planet for thousands of years and recently it has become a huge issue for not only Earth, but also the species inhabiting it. In order to keep the planet safe, it is important that people realize the dangers of climate change, so the issue does not get any worse than it has already become.

To start off, it is important to note just what climate change is, of which refers to a wide range of global phenomena created for the most part by burning fossil fuels. This global phenomena adds gases that trap heat to Earth’s atmosphere and are responsible for issues such as warming oceans and glacial retreat. Climate change is not to be confused with global warming however as global warming refers to the long term warming of the planet which has continued to increase due to fossil fuels emissions in the late 1970s. And it is because of historic periods such as the Industrial Revolution that global warming has continued to rise leading to an average surface temperature increase of 1°C since 1880. Some other important terms to lay out in order to better understand climate change as well as the differences between it and global warming are “weather” and “climate”. Weather, which is associated with global warming more so than climate change, refers to atmospheric conditions that take place over a short period of time. Some examples of this would be rain, winds, or snow. The other term that is important to take note of would be climate, which coincidentally refers to climate change. Climate of which, seems to be on the opposite end of the spectrum and instead refers to the long term, the global average of temperature. Examples of this include humidity and rainfall over a long period of time. While “climate change” and “global warming” are often misinterpreted as one another it is still important to note the differences between the two as both are unique in their own way. So with that being, said now that a clear definition of climate change has been laid out, it is time to move on to just what has caused this strange phenomena. 

Now that the basis of what climate change is has been laid out it is time to dive further into the issue and figure out just what causes climate change in the first place. As discussed earlier, climate change is the result of the atmosphere trapping heat that has radiated from Earth toward space. This is known as the previously stated “greenhouse effect”. Though similar to most things in life not everything is a simple as it seems. While this may be a good short explanation to the issue, there is still much more going on that is simply not apparent to most at first. This “greenhouse effect” is due to specific gases in the atmosphere trapping heat from escaping, but what makes them a problem is the fact that these gases stay around for a long time. What makes it even worse is the fact that some do not respond physically or chemically when there are changes in temperature and because of this it ends up forcing climate change to occur without the need of human input. Scientists know these changes are occuring due to gases known as “feedbacks” which do respond physically and chemically, these indicate change has taken place. Some of these gases that contribute to this effect include H2O, N2O, CO2, and CH4. From the most plentiful greenhouse gas that is H20 to the most power all of which contribute to this greenhouse effect. Over the course of history humans have contributed to this effect more than greenhouse gas could do on its own. It is because of human activities such as agriculture and the burning of fossil fuels that lead to this build up of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. These are the actions that cause climate change and are the actions that will forever shape our planet’s future, this is why it is important that these causes are known so that the effects begin to be seen less and less as the years go by.

Finally the consequences of climate change will be discussed and though its effects may be difficult to predict, there is a variety of effects that seem likely. Climate change has already had a tremendous impact on on the environment, leading to many observable effects such as shrunken glaciers and trees flowering sooner than usual. This is not an issue that can be simply ignored, today effects that scientists predicted in the past are now occurring and will continue to worsen if changes do not happen. Scientists believe that if global temperatures will only continue to rise if things stay the same way and this is mainly due to the dangerous effects of the greenhouse gases mentioned earlier. Climate change is not just affecting the environment however, plants and animals are also being put to the test as they are forced to either leave or adapt to the conditions put upon them. Some species may even die out due to these effects because they are unable to adapt to the ever changing environment. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) one of the leading organizations for the cause states “the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.” meaning this is not an issue that will just fade away over time. Climate change is an issue that has been going on for decades and not only are its effects harmful, they are undeniable that they have had some sort of impact on the environment. So hopefully knowing this people can begin to realize the effects first hand and start fighting against this global issue.

 Now that it has been concluded as to just what climate change is, as well as the causes and effects of it, it is safe to say it truly is a big issue. First climate change was clearly defined as a wide range global phenomena created mostly by burning fossil fuels. Next the main cause for it was laid out, that being climate change is the result of the atmosphere trapping heat that has radiated from Earth toward space. Finally the effects were discussed, of which include increased global temperatures and even trees flowering sooner than usual. This was all meant to inform people around the world over just what climate change is, so now that a conclusion has been reached, hopefully more people come to understand this issue and just how big it has become.

Self-Grade:

Organization: 10/10

Evidence: 10/10

Conventions: 8/10

Work Cited:

“Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet.” NASA, NASA, 13 Dec. 2018,

climate.nasa.gov/.
NASA provided lots of the statistics as well as definitions in this essay. Statistics include dates, changes in temperature and much more. Provided clear evidence along with cited sources to back up its claims near the bottom of every page. Went through the causes for climate change as well as the effects that can happen because of it. While not all the information provided was put to use in this essay there was a lot that ended up being very beneficial.

“Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.” GlobalChange.gov, U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2009, www.globalchange.gov/browse/reports/global-climate-change-impacts-united-states.

Global Change provided information over the way climate change is affecting various parts of the United States and was intended to make this information for accessible to those around the world. The site includes several features of which include clickable images as well as a search function for the entire report. While the site may be in the development phase it still does a good job at providing useful information along with cited sources to back it up.

Oreskes, Naomi. “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.” Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 3 Dec. 2004, science.sciencemag.org/content/306/5702/1686.full.
Science Magazine provides a scientific consensus on climate change and here it discusses how to go about dealing with climate change. It does a good job at evaluating the state of climate change and was a big help when it came to forming an introduction. States useful statistics backed up by references and overall really gives a good basis for understanding climate change.

“National Climate Assessment.” National Climate Assessment, NCA, 2014, nca2014.globalchange.gov/.
NCA provides


Usgcrp. “Climate Science Special Report:” Globalchange.gov, CSSR, science2017.globalchange.gov/.
CSSR provides

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