Climate Change – What is it?

In the current day lexicon of scientists, climate modification isn’t really a term of use anymore. The reason for this is that we have come to understand that the effect of the changes we make to our environment will increase the temperature in many locations on the planet but will also cool a few places. In light of this, the thing you know of as climate modification is actually referred to as global climate change. Overall, however, the world is definitely warming.

We need a simple definition for climate change in relation to the warming of the planet, one that gets the gist without excluding the simplicities. The simplest and most accurate definition is that climate change is the effect greenhouse gases have on the earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases include, but are not limited to, carbon dioxide and methane. While this sounds like a simple definition, there are a couple of key things to realize.

First, climate change is both a natural phenomenon and one created by man. Put another way, greenhouse gases are a natural part of the biosphere and would exist if man did not. Indeed, they are a critical component to the existence of life on this planet. If greenhouse gases didn’t exist, the temperature on planet earth would average zero degrees! Naturally occurring gases, however, keep the temperature at a much more livable 59 degrees.

So, if climate change occurs naturally, what is the big panic about? The problem we are facing is the volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases act as thermal blankets for the atmosphere. The more gas in the atmosphere, the thicker the blanket and the less heat escapes. Over the last 80 years, we have been pumping massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the sky. At the same time, we have been reducing forestation around the planet, the primary plant collection that sucks greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. This double whammy is starting to show negative results, the increased heating of our world.

The ultimate question with climate alteration is what will happen as the planet heats up. While the exact end result of these environmental changes is not clear, we can expect major climatic changes over the next 80 years.