Climate change is definable as a factual and durable change in weather patterns. The change may be related to changes in mean weather conditions, range of weather conditions (e.g higher maximum temperature or lower minimum temperatures) and distribution (e.g. fewer but stronger rain showers). Climate change is a process which may be caused by a number of factors including natural (geologic, oceanographic and atmospheric events e.g. volcanic eruptions) and human-induced (anthropogenic) factors, the most relevant of which is the emission of greenhouse gases through human processes such as burning of fossil fuels.
Because so many systems are tied to climate, a change in climate can affect many related aspects of where and how people, plants and animals live, such as food production, availability and use of water, and health risks.
For example, a change in the usual timing of rains or temperatures can affect when plants bloom and set fruit, when insects hatch or when streams are their fullest. This can affect historically synchronized pollination of crops, food for migrating birds, spawning of fish, water supplies for drinking and irrigation, forest health, and more.
Some short-term climate variation is normal, but longer-term trends now indicate a changing climate. A year or two of an extreme change in temperature or other condition doesn’t mean a climate change trend has been “erased.”
Climate Change and global warming, the difference?
Both terms refer to closely related effects, and some people use the terms interchangeably. Global warming is the cause of climates change. “Global warming” refers directly and solely to the rising global temperatures, while “climate change” includes other kinds of changes, too. Warmer global temperatures lead to climate change affecting rainfall patterns, humidity sea level, temperature patterns and the probability of extreme climatic events.
Why are we to be concerned with climate change?
The growing national and international concern is based on science, findings from Assessment reports (there are 4 published and the 5th will be soon available) by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted the changes to be expected in the future due to climate change, these findings were based on peer reviewed studies carried out by a large number of researchers which conclusions were somewhat coherent with each other Negative effects identified include
• Floods and/or drought could become more frequent and more severe.
• Local changes in temperature, precipitation and soil moisture could negatively impact vital resources for human life, including:
a. natural ecosystems
b. agriculture and food supplies
c. human health
e. water resources and availability
f. energy use
What causes climate change and global warming?
There is strong evidence that most of the warming over the last 50 years is due to human activities. Ice cores taken from deep in ancient ice of Antarctica show that carbon dioxide levels are higher now than at any time in the past 420,000 years, this is illustrated in a ‘classic’ paper written by J.R. Petit in 1999 and published in Nature magazine in the same year, the article was named ‘Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica’.
In its 2007 report to the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that it is more than 90 percent likely that the accelerated warming of the past 50-60 years is due to human contributions.
National policies relating to climate change can be found here: