What is climate change and how can I help?
Climate is the long-term average of a region's weather events lumped together. For example, it's possible that a winter day in Detroit, Michigan, could be sunny and mild, but the average weather – the climate – tells us that Detroit's winters will mainly be cold and include snow and freezing temperatures. Climate change represents a change in these long-term weather patterns. They can become warmer or colder. Annual amounts of rainfall or snowfall can increase or decrease.
The big deal about climate changes is that small things can become big if they are not attended to. If temperatures rise above normal levels for a few days, it's no big deal – the Earth will stay more or less the same. But if temperatures continue to rise over a longer period of time, then the Earth may experience some problems.
While it is important to understand that scientists don't know for sure what climate change will bring climate change may affect us both directly and indirectly. Scientists suspect that, in many places, climate change will increase the number of very hot days that occur during the year. More hot days increases the possibility of heat related health problems. Climate change may also alter the world's habitats and ecosystems – all living things are included in and rely on these places. Many of these places depend on a delicate balance of rainfall, temperature, and soil type. A rapid change in climate could upset this balance and seriously endanger many living things.
Take a look for yourself.
This year, for the first time, US national security agencies have begun to include potential worst-case scenarios resulting from climate change in their long-term planning. Watch video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPz7B6ers4k
Here's a list of 25 ways to help curb climate change, adapted from The Daily, independent student newspaper for the University of Washington, thanks to Lisa Forest at askehbl.wordpress.com .
1. Be optimistic! Solving the problem of climate change is possible! Learn the facts about climate change.
2. Get involved. Urge your congressperson to make the environment a priority.
3. Stop using disposable plastic bags at the grocery store, only 3 percent of which are recycled each year. Instead, buy reusable grocery bags.
4. Turn off your computer each night before bed, which could save 83 percent of its carbon emissions.
5. Unplug your cell phone charger when it’s not in use, as well as other appliances around the apartment.
6. Use the cold cycle of the washing machine for washing full loads of clothes, which saves 6.5 pounds of carbon emissions per load.
7. Bring your own coffee cup to your morning coffee shop to reduce waste.
8. Instead of buying bottles of water, invest in a reusable one and fill it at water fountains.
9. Refill printer ink cartridges up to four times at an office supply store.
10. Use both sides of paper and then recycle. Only 9 percent of the 8 million tons of paper used each year is recycled. Print double-sided
11. Run the dishwasher only when it is full, and instead of using the dry cycle, let dishes air dry with the door open.
12. Clean the dryer’s lint trap after each load of clothes.
13. When you leave a room, turn off the lights.
14. Buy local food whenever possible. The further food travels, the more carbon is emitted.
15. Switch from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs.
16. Don’t worry about preheating the oven when baking, except when making bread or pastries.
17. Cut as much beef out of your diet as possible. The meat industry is responsible for 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
18. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth.
19. Buy eggs in cardboard containers, which are more biodegradable.
20. Recycle your newspaper.
21. Ride the bus as often as possible or ride your bike or walk wherever possible.
22. Have a box set aside for recycling in your room — paper, cans, plastic and glass.
23. Take shorter showers.
24. Reuse wrapping paper, bows and ribbons.
25. Recycle your batteries to reduce the 179,000 tons of them that end up in landfills each year.
What other ideas do you have to add to the list? Share your ideas in our comments section. For more information on the affects of climate change visit the EPA's Climate Change website.