Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, and other measures of climate that occur over several decades or longer. It is caused by both natural and human-made factors, with the latter having become the dominant cause of recent climate change.
The primary human-made cause of climate change is the emission of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. These gases trap heat from the sun and warm the planet, leading to an increase in global temperatures. The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, is the largest source of these emissions, and deforestation, agriculture, and other land use changes also contribute to the problem.
In addition to these long-lived greenhouse gases, other human activities can also contribute to climate change, such as the release of black carbon (soot) and other short-lived climate pollutants. Climate change can have a range of impacts on the planet, including rising sea levels, more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, and heavy rainfall events, and changes in the distribution of plant and animal species.
It is important to take action to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change, as the consequences of not doing so could be severe and far-reaching. This requires a combination of reducing emissions from human activities, adapting to the changes that are already underway, and investing in research and development to find new and innovative solutions to this global challenge.