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Climate Change

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Climate Change

Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period. Climate change may refer to a change in weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer term conditions. Climate change is caused by biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions and certain human activities have also been identified as significant causes of recent climate change, often referred to as global warming. Here's a simple definition of global warming. (And yes, it's happening.) Over the past 50 years, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. And experts see the trend is accelerating: All but one of the 16 hottest years in NASA’s 134-year record have occurred since 2000.Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants and greenhouse gasses collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the earth’s surface. Normally, this radiation would escape into space—but these pollutants, which can last for years to centuries in the atmosphere, trap the heat and cause the planet to get hotter. That's what's known as the greenhouse effect.

The evidence is clear. However, due to the nature of science, not every single detail is ever totally settled or completely certain. Nor has every question yet been answered. Scientific evidence continues to be gathered around the world, and assumptions and findings about climate change are continually analysed and tested. Some areas of active debate and ongoing research include the link between ocean heat content and the rate of warming, estimates of how much warming to expect in the future, and the connections between climate change and extreme weather events.

Most climate scientists agree the main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the "greenhouse effect" which is warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space. On Earth, human activities are changing the natural greenhouse by burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This happens because the coal or oil burning process combines carbon with oxygen in the air to make CO2. To a lesser extent, the clearing of land for agriculture, industry, and other human activities has increased concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Climate change is already having a significant impact on ecosystems, economies and communities. Rising average temperatures do not simply mean balmier winters but Some regions will experience more extreme heat while others may cool slightly causing Flooding, drought and intense summer heat, also violent storms and other extreme weather events could also result from the increased energy stored in our warming atmosphere. One of the most serious impacts of climate change is how it will affect water resources around the world as water is intimately tied to other resource and social issues such as food supply, health, industry, transportation and ecosystem integrity. The global meltdown of ice sheets and alpine glaciers represents another, taking an immense toll on Arctic ecosystems. Climate change also threatens the health of our children and grandchildren through increased disease, freshwater shortages, worsened smog and more. These impacts also pose incalculable economic risks that far outweigh the economic risks of taking action today. The sooner we act to reduce greenhouse gases, the less severe impacts will be. Now is the time to implement solutions. Decrease in the pH of the earth’s oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere know as ocean acidification. Seawater is slightly basic, and the process in question is a shift towards pH-neutral conditions rather than a transition to acidic conditions. To achieve chemical equilibrium, some of it reacts with the water to form carbonic acid. Some of these extra carbonic acid molecules react with a water molecule to give a bicarbonate ion and a hydronium ion, thus increasing ocean acidity. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14, representing an increase of almost 30% in H ion concentration in the world's oceans. Earth System Models project that within the last decade ocean acidity exceeded historical analogues and in combination with other ocean biogeochemical changes could undermine the functioning of marine ecosystems and disrupt the provision of many goods and services associated with the ocean.

Burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, oil and gasoline raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and global warming. Global climate change is certainly one of the top environmental issues today. Can we help to ease global warming? There are many ways to reduce global warming, some are very simple whilst others require a more focussed approach. Scientists are convinced that the single biggest cause of global warming today is the release of carbon dioxide through burning of fossil fuels in our power stations, vehicles and transport systems.

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