Fields flooded by nearby Wallkill River during Hurricane Irene (2011) and again after Tropical Storm Lee, near Campbell Hall, NY, USA
Image by Daniel Case

The Earth’s climate is changing and we are experiencing more and more extreme events.

Temperatures are increasing, rain and snowfall patterns are shifting.

 Freshwater flooding from Hurricane Irene (2011) in Highland, Ulster County, New York. The former Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge (now Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park) is seen in the background, obscured by fog and overcast skies immediately following the storm.
Image by Julian Colton

Many of these changes can be linked to the rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

EPA online interactive map of biggest greenhouse gas polluters, from:
http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/smart-takes/epa-releases-interactive-map-of-us-biggest-polluters/

EPA map showing numbers of facilities emitting high levels of greenhouse gases

Climate Change

At its core, climate change simply indicates "any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time" (EPA, pre-2017). Global climate change is often spoken of in tandem with global warming, which refers to the recent warming trends in the average temperature of the Earth.

Information on Climate Change:

Visit Cornell Institute for Climate Solutions for more information and links to research. .

From Duke University 20 Facts for Climate Deniers

From US Environmental Protection Agency 'Climate Change Indicators in the United States'

The Greenhouse Effect

Much like the glass of a greenhouse, the Earth's atmosphere keeps heat contained to a level that allows life to flourish. The atmosphere consists of water vapor, nitrogen, oxygen, and trace gases, which include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The general warming of the planet is being caused by an increase in these trace gases, often called 'greenhouse gases', which then trap increasing amounts of heat. Less of the infrared heat that is emitted by the Earth is able to pass through the atmosphere when these gases are increased, and instead reflect back, warming the Earth's surface more than usual.

White House Iniative on Global Climate Change

Greenhouse gases are emitted during the burning of fossil fuels (like coal, oil and natural gas). The Environmental Protection Agency has new interactive map showing the  facilities that emit a large amount of greenhouse gases. 

The Fourth Assessment Report of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Consequences

The changing climate is interfering with natural cycles, causing extreme weather events, raising sea levels1 as glaciers and ice caps melt, and threatening many species with extinction as their environment changes and the oceans become increasingly acidic.

Check out this interactive coastal vulnerability map from the White House website.


1. Hausfather, Zeke. The Global Climate in Context- 2013 in Review. The Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media. 3 Feb. 2014.

Last updated April 5, 2019