What about Climate Change?
Climate change is a wide-scale change in average weather over a time period of at least 30 years. Climate change occurs naturally due to a number of factors, including changes in the Earth’s orbit, volcanic eruptions, or variation in energy output from the sun.
Greenhouse gases have an important effect on Earth’s temperature by trapping heat in the atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise. This is called “the greenhouse effect.”
Greenhouse gases include:
- Carbon dioxide;
- Nitrous oxide;
- Water vapour;
- Perfluorocarbons (PFCs);
- Sulphurhexafluoride (SF6); and
The first four gases occur naturally and make up less than one per cent of the Earth’s atmosphere. Naturally-occurring greenhouse gases are essential for our survival; they act like a blanket around Earth, trapping life-essential heat in the lower layer of our atmosphere.
However, climate change is also affected by human activity. The largest human contribution to climate change is the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas or oil. The global scientific community is in agreement that human activity is most likely responsible for temperature increases over the past 250 years. However, the biggest concern is the speed at which climate change is happening.
Although the effects of climate change are uncertain, we expect periods of drought or flooding, reduced soil quality, and possible loss of biodiversity in coming years.
We can mitigate and reduce the effects of climate change. By protecting, conserving, and enhancing our wetlands, forests, and other natural spaces, we help preserve carbon sinks. We can also reduce our energy consumption, and commit to actions that help conserve our natural resources.
Visit Alberta Environment’s Climate Change website for more information.