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What is climate change?

Global warming doesn’t mean we’ll all just have warmer weather in future.

As the planet heats, climate patterns change. It’ll mean more extreme and unpredictable weather across the world – many places will be hotter, some wetter, others drier.

We know the planet has warmed by an average of nearly 1°C in the past century. That might not sound much, but on a global scale it’s a huge increase and it’s creating big problems for people and wildlife.

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How hot can it get?

A rise of just 2°c would mean:

  • severe storms and floods in some countries, droughts in many more
  • seas become more acidic, coral and krill die, food chains are destroyed
  • little or no Arctic sea ice in summer – not just bad news for polar bears, it also means that the global climate warms faster (as there’s less polar ice to deflect sunlight)

Beyond 2°c:

Scientists predict possible rises of up to 6°C this century if we don’t drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions.

It almost doesn’t bear thinking about what this would mean:

  • Rainforests dying.
  • Increased melting of the ancient ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.
  • Dramatic sea level rises.
  • And people and animals suffering along the way.

That’s why we must act now.

Some people might try to tell you that global warming is natural, or that the Earth is actually cooling. Or they might suggest there’s nothing we can do. But here’s what the science tells us:

Temperatures are rising faster than ever

The Earth’s climate has always changed: temperatures have risen and fallen over thousands of years. But it’s happening now at a far faster rate than ever before, which doesn’t give the world’s species (including ourselves) much time to react or adapt.

Man made global warming

The overwhelming evidence is that the global warming we’re seeing now is mostly man-made – it’s largely down to burning fossil fuels and large-scale deforestation. It’s not a natural process, no matter how much climate change deniers may claim it is.

The good news is that if we accept humans are a major cause of climate change, we can choose to do something about it. But we have to do it soon.