What is Climate Change?
Every day you hear in the news that our climate is changing. The experts are talking about the climate, but the impact of those changes will be with the weather ...
... remember you cannot see the climate change!
The Weather is what you see daily, when you look out of your window. It is the temperature, the humidity, the precipitation (rain, snow, hail etc) and the wind, really all those elements that affect daily lives. It is notoriously difficult to predict, the MET office are world leaders in this field, and they still get it wrong! However, computers are becoming more accurate, improving the predictions, but forecasting will never be an exact science.
The Climate simply means averaged weather conditions; usually taken over a 30 year period. You cannot see climate, what you see is the weather.
The terms weather and climate can be used in conjunction with various Scales, in global terms, at a national, regional or local scale and even the term micro-climate/weather are used at times. It is important to understand what scale is being referred to when looking at information about weather or climate.
Mitigation is the action being taken now across the world to reduce our principle greenhouse gases (CO2 - Carbon Dioxide, CH4 - Methane). Adaptation is the planning process that is happening now to enable us to deal with the changes that are already happening to the climate. This looks at the increasing risks being placed on our daily lives and puts in place policy to ensure we can effectively adapt the way we live over the coming decades.
So, is the climate changing?
Yes! We have to listen to the experts, evidence is overwhelming, the World's top scientists agree it is happening, although the rate of change and its impact is still very difficult to predict.
What has caused climate change?
The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) tell us that man has caused these changes, by emissions of CO2 through the burning of fossil fuels over the last two centuries, since the start of the industrial revolution.
The atmosphere's concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) has increased due to the burning of fossil fuels - coal, oil and gas. These emissions have increased over the years and the earth's natural balance is unable to cope with this increased rate of pollution.
What is happening to the climate?
Simply, it is getting warmer. However, it is the rate of this change that is of such global concern. Current thinking indicates that there is a tipping point (+3 - 4OC), and if exceeded, the climate could become out of control, leading to erratic and ever more un-predictable weather events.
What will I see happen?
UKCIP have recently released their new cutting edge forecasting tool, which predicts various possible outcomes for the climate, depending on what levels of action is put in place now.
As explained previously it is the weather that will change as a result of the altering climate. It is likely to deliver increased severe events, including torrential rainfall, flooding, gales and heat waves both here in the UK and all around the world.
What can I do?
The damage to our atmosphere has already been done. As a result our climate is changing and will continue to change, even if we stop polluting the atmosphere now. This is due to a lag effect between the causes and the consequences of what is happening, meaning any mitigation taken now will take decades to have an effect on the climate, but the longer we leave it, the longer it will take for the benefits to occur.
However, we can all reduce the level of these changes by curbing our emissions, and giving our atmosphere a chance to regain its' natural balance. It's not too late, but the "window of opportunity" will only stay open for so long. Action and investment now will help us to protect our futures and the futures of our children and grandchildren.