What is Climate Change?


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Aubrie Hickmon, Editor-In-Chief

Climate change has been a hot topic around the world for years and it seems like everyone is always talking about it in some way or another.

But perhaps you’ve been wondering what climate change truly is, and what the effects of it could be. According to UCDavis’ Science & Climate department, “Climate change refers to significant changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns and other measures of climate that occur over several decades or longer.” Not to be confused with global warming which refers to “a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants.” Global warming is the most prominent and recent example of climate change, but it is not the only thing climate change entails.

Climate change can have many disastrous, sometimes irreversible, effects. Much to the surprise of many scientists, many of those effects are visible on Earth today. According to NASA, some of those effects include glaciers shrinking, ice on rivers and lakes breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges shifting, and trees flowering sooner. Some of these things might not seem like that big of a deal, but the smaller things add to up to create problematic long-term effects. According to the United States Geological Survey, those effects vary from continent to continent. In North America, some of those include decreasing snowpack in the western mountains and increased frequency, intensity, and duration of heat waves. In Latin America, there could be significant losses in biodiversity through extinction and significant changes in water availability for a variety of uses. In Europe, there is a great risk for increased flash-flooding, coastal flooding, and erosion from storms and sea level rise. In Africa, these effects are expected to become major problems by 2020, which includes increased water stress and reduced rain-fed agriculture yields. In Asia, freshwater availability is projected to decrease by the 2050s and coastal areas will be at risk for increased flooding.

Climate change is becoming an increasingly major problem in the world today, and therefore is being talked about more and more. Though global warming plays a massive role in recent climate change, that is not the only thing that qualifies it. Climate change matters, so get informed and do what you can to lessen the effects, even if it’s just by a little bit.