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Climate Change for Dummies

What is climate change?

Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, however since the 1800s, human activities have significantly increased climate change. This is primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil and gas), deforestation for resources, and agriculture.

Fossil fuels

Fossil fuels are the greatest contributor to climate change. The United Nations state that it accounts for over 75% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and nearly 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions. We use fossil fuels to produce energy to generate electricity, and to power transportation and industrial processes.

UGC Berkely states that globally we burn 4,000 times the amount of fossil fuels burnt during 1776 annually. This is significant because fossil fuels are a finite resource meaning non-renewable and will eventually run out. According to MET 2015, at current consumption levels Oil is predicted to run out in 51 years, Coal in 114 years and Natural gas in 53 years. Therefore underlining the significance of climate change awareness and prevention and support in researching alternatives.


Causes of deforestation include agricultural expansion, wood extraction, infrastructure expansion including road building and development. This is predominately taking place in South America, Central Africa and Southeast Asia.

Deforestation causes a rise in carbon dioxide as it decreases the number of trees that can absorb it. Additionally, increasing carbon dioxide as the trees release the carbon stored within them when burnt.

The European Parliament state that approximately 420 million hectares of forest has been harmed due to deforestation between 1990 and 2020. Which is equivalent to the size of The European Union (EU).

According to The European Parliament, the main products imported by the EU from deforested land include:

  • Palm oil - 34%

  • Soya - 32.8%

  • Wood - 8.6%

  • Cocoa - 7.5%

  • Coffee - 7%

  • Rubber - 3.4%

  • Maize - 1.6%


Agriculture releases significant amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, two powerful greenhouse gases. MET states that methane is 30% more powerful than carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide is ten times worse and approximately 300% more powerful than carbon dioxide!

Furthermore WWF states that the pesticides, fertilisers and other toxic farm chemicals that are used can poison fresh water, marine ecosystems, air and soil. Additionally, can remain in the environment for generations.

How to help climate change at home:

Decrease lighting usage - Turn off all lights when the room is not being occupied and replace inefficient light bulbs. Furthermore, states that you can replace one regular light-bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb which uses 66% less energy and saves 150 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.

Increase your public transportation use - Our personal vehicles are a major cause for global warming. BBC states that transport contributes to approximately 1 quarter of CO2 emissions globally. Additionally, road vehicles contributes to three quarters of the CO2 emissions that come from transportation as a whole. Therefore, decreasing your use of your personal vehicles is vital.

Recycle more - states that you can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide annually by recycling solely half of your household waste. Recycling also keeps our environment clean, reduces pollution, saves energy, helps in the conservation of many non-renewable resources and more.

Use less hot water - Wisconsin public service states that this will help preserve natural resources. Additionally, help you save on energy costs and reduce your water bill. This can be practiced through using the dishwasher and clothes washing machine only when full in cold water.

Bring your own reusable bottle or mug - EarthDay states that 50 billion plastic bottles are purchased in the US annually. This is equivalent to approximately 13 plastic bottles per month for each individual in the US. Therefore, one individual switching to a reusable bottle can save approximately 156 plastic bottles annually. Additionally, you can also bring your own reusable straw! Earthday also states that people use half a billion plastic straws everyday in the US alone.

Adjust your thermostat - state that adjusting your thermostat down 2 degrees in the winter and up 2 degrees in the summer can save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Furthermore, you can introduce at home technology that alters the temperature automatically to ensure there is no wasted energy.


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