What Is Climate Change?
In this educational video, learn why the climate is changing, how it affects us, and what we can do about it.
Climate Change Causes and Effects
Climate change is rapidly altering our world in profound ways. Human activity has already increased the earth’s temperature by about 2°F since 1880. As the planet continues to get hotter, through a process known as global warming, the dangers intensify. Millions of people could be displaced and vital infrastructure could be destroyed. Climate change’s effects are far-reaching and varied and touch virtually every aspect of life on the earth: extreme heat events, rising sea levels, deeper droughts, desertification, bigger wildfires, and more intense storms.
Because climate change poses such an extraordinary threat to the planet, it needs to be addressed. There are no clear-cut answers to this global challenge, but it is not insurmountable. Countries are already taking steps to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects. Blueprints exist, but they need to be used more widely and more effectively, because the longer action is delayed, the worse climate change becomes—and the more difficult it will be to endure.
In this module, we will examine three basic questions on climate change:
What is happening to our global climate?
- Gain some scientific context by learning about the greenhouse effect and its relationship to climate change.
- Understand the vast and varied effects of climate change, including through an in-depth look at how climate change is affecting ice melt patterns in Greenland.
- See how climate change affects millions of people worldwide who depend on the coffee industry for economic survival.
- Explore how climate change disproportionately affects certain communities and could drastically increase global inequalities.
Why is climate change happening?
- Learn about the trade-offs of fossil fuels and alternative energy sources, and take a critical look at the mix of energy sources countries use.
- Explore all the different ways to measure which countries emit the most greenhouse gases.
- Understand the historical experiences of developed and developing countries and the debate over responsibility for climate change.
- Dive into the global water crisis and understand why climate change will only make it more severe.
What are some climate change solutions?
- Study the background, structure, and significance of the Paris Agreement, the first truly global climate action accord.
- Learn about the different ways countries are responding to a changing environment.
- Explore the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States and how it is aiming to contribute to greener outcomes.
- Take a tour of adaptation programs around the world, from Kiribati’s purchase of land in Fiji to Vietnam’s cultivation of salt-resistant rice.
- Understand how artificial intelligence is helping countries reduce carbon emissions, but some innovations could ultimately contribute to a warming planet.