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Climate Change

What is climate change?

When scientists use the words climate change, they are talking about changes in the patterns of our climate, such as increases in temperature or decreases in the amount of precipitation that falls to earth.  Scientists determine that climate change is taking place when the pattern of change has occurred over an extended period of time, such as for decades or centuries.  

Is global warming the same thing as climate change? 

Global warming is not the same thing as climate change even though many people mistakenly use these terms interchangeably.  Global warming is one of the factors that is believed to be causing climate change. Global warming refers to the gradual heating of planet earth.  According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (, Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.4°F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 2 to 11.5°F over the next hundred years. While this may not seem like much of an increase, many scientists believe this level of change could trigger dramatic changes in our environment such as rising sea levels and melting glaciers and ice, more wildfires and drought, and more extreme storms, rainfall, and floods. Scientists believe that these types of changes will have significant negative impacts upon the forests, oceans, crops, fresh water supplies, and other natural resources that all plants, animals, and humans rely upon.

Who is responsible for global warming?

For the most part, people are. We pollute our own home with greenhouse gas emissions. However, we can help reduce climate change. By making small changes in our lives, we can help reduce the amount of pollution we create. 

What is the cause of global warming?

For the most part, people are. Scientists have been able to show that global warming has increased at the same rate that greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, have increased in Earth’s atmosphere.  When greenhouse gases are in the atmosphere, they trap heat making the earth warmer. So how do the greenhouse gases get into the atmosphere? They mostly come from burning fossil fuels such as coal or gas, which humans have used as the main source of energy for the electricity in our homes and the gas that goes into our cars.  

How can you help?

The problem of global warming and climate change can seem so big that maybe you’re thinking that one person can’t make a difference.  Well, you’re wrong about that! There are many ways that each of us can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases going into our atmosphere.  You can explore ways to use less energy or to use “green” energy (energy such as solar energy or wind energy that is not made from fossil fuels). You can find ways to make the energy that you do use go further by reusing and recycling.  And you can become informed about global warming and spread the word to others so that your efforts are passed on to others. Check out the links below to learn more about these and other ways to make a difference.

Learn More

Basic information and graphs of data showing climate changeWays that you can help to reduce greenhouse gases (PDF) Books on this topic(PDF) Books on this topic part 2

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