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25 Feb 07:02

About the Climate Change Crisis

Climate change refers to change in averages over a long period, but the science is clear that our climate is now changing rapidly, driven by human activities. We are in the midst of a climate crisis.

There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Human activities – particularly the burning of fossil fuels – have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and affect the global climate.

The effects of climate change are already happening, including more frequent and intense drought, storms, heatwaves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans. As climate change worsens, dangerous weather events are becoming more frequent as well as severe.

Climate change impacts human health and crop growth, while many people face being displaced from their homes. The climate crisis is placing species at an increased risk of extinction.

What can be done? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stressed the need to keep global warming below 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) compared to pre-industrial levels in order to avoid some irreversible impacts.

To make progress towards a goal of limiting warming to 2 °C, in 2019 the United Nations Environment Programme estimated that, within the next decade, countries would need to triple the amount of reductions they had committed to in the Paris Agreement; an even greater level of reduction is required to meet the 1.5 °C goal.

But "five years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the world is still far from meeting its climate goals," the UN reported in 2020.

And in 2021, a major UN scientific report confirmed human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and sometimes irreversible ways, calling it "a code red for humanity".

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