There’s no doubt that climate change is real, and it’s happening now—but when did it start?
The Earth’s climate has changed throughout its history, but the most recent period of global warming began in the late 1800s. This is when humans started burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas at an unprecedented rate. These greenhouse gases trapped more heat in our atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise.
Climate change is already causing problems around the world: more extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods and droughts; rising sea levels; increased drought; melting ice caps; and ocean acidification. If we don’t take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, things will only get worse. We need to take action now to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change: rising sea levels will flood cities; food shortages will result from crop failures; diseases carried by insects may spread more widely with warmer weather conditions; and some plant species will become extinct if they can’t adapt quickly enough to their new environment.
We can each do our part by reducing our personal carbon footprint by making small changes in our day-to-day lives—like switching off lights when we leave a room or turning off appliances when they’re not being used.