What climate change is
Climate change describes the significant change in the average weather conditions and patterns over a long term (warming has been measurable for about 40 years).
The main contributing factor to climate change is the increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions seen since the industrial revolution 150 years ago. Not all CO2 is bad, CO2 is essential to all life on earth, as it acts like a blanket around the earth keeping us all warm. The problem is that this blanket is getting thicker due to excess CO2 emissions being emitted by human activities, through the cars we drive, how we heat our home, the things we buy, and the food we eat.
The effects are serious and the evidence is clear. Measurements from across the world show that the average temperature at the Earth’s surface has risen by about 1°C since before the industrial revolution (1750s). As well as rising temperatures, we have also seen rises in sea levels, higher ocean temperatures, an increase in heavy rain, more extreme wildfires, shrinking glaciers, thawing permafrost, and more extreme weather events.
All these impacts are having catastrophic consequences for nature, the environment, our society, and the economy (think about flood damage costs) and ultimately our ability to live our lives the way we currently do.
Some people think that this is a problem that will not impact everyone in the UK or us here in County Durham. Although impacts have so far been more devastating for people living in areas already suffering from droughts or extreme weather events, Durham is not immune. The truth is that we are in a climate emergency and radical action is needed now, whether we like it or not.