Climate change refers to long-term shifts and alterations in Earth’s climate patterns and systems. It is primarily caused by human activities, specifically the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), trap heat from the sun and contribute to the greenhouse effect, which leads to an overall increase in global temperatures. Climate change encompasses both natural variations in climate and anthropogenic (human-induced) changes that are occurring at an accelerated pace.
The primary driver of modern climate change is the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) for energy production, transportation, and industrial processes. Deforestation, industrial agriculture, and other land-use changes also contribute to the release of greenhouse gases. These activities have significantly increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to a rise in global temperatures.
The impacts of climate change are widespread and diverse. They include rising temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, more frequent and intense extreme weather events (such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, and storms), sea-level rise, melting ice caps and glaciers, ocean acidification, shifts in ecosystems and biodiversity, and disruptions to agriculture, water resources, and human health.
Addressing climate change requires global cooperation and concerted efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to renewable and cleaner energy sources, promote sustainable land management practices, and adapt to the changing climate. International agreements, such as the Paris Agreement, aim to limit global warming and mitigate the impacts of climate change. The scientific community plays a crucial role in monitoring, studying, and communicating the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to climate change.