Climate change refers to the long-term changes in the average weather patterns and temperatures on Earth. These changes are primarily caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which releases greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide and methane) into the atmosphere. These gases trap heat from the sun, causing the planet to warm up.
The effects of climate change can be widespread and include:
- Rising global temperatures, which can lead to heat waves, droughts, and more frequent and severe extreme weather events.
- Melting of ice caps and glaciers, which can cause sea levels to rise and threaten coastal communities.
- Changes in precipitation patterns, which can lead to more intense and frequent floods and droughts.
- Changes in ecosystems, which can cause the displacement or extinction of many plant and animal species.
- Damage to infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and buildings from extreme weather events.
- Negative impact on human health from factors such as heat stress and the spread of disease.
Climate change also exacerbate preexisting issues such as poverty, water scarcity, and displacement of people.
Many of these effects are already being observed around the world, and scientists expect them to continue and potentially accelerate in the future if greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly reduced.