What is Climate Change?
Climate change, also known as global warming, refers to the build up of man—made gases in the atmosphere that trap the sun’s heat, causing changes in weather patterns on a global scale.
The main greenhouse gases generated by human activity are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, as well as some manufactured gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and some of their replacements.
What are the effects of climate change?
Research conducted by thousands of scientists around the world, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggests that:
On average, the earth is getting warmer. Its temperature has already risen by around 0.7℃ over the past hundred years — and may rise by between 1.4 and 5.8℃ this century.
Globally, the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1990. And 2005 was Australia’s warmest year on record, 1.1℃ above the average for the period 1961 to 1990.
Sea levels are rising as oceans expand and glaciers and ice sheets melt — by 2100, sea levels may be from 9 to 88 centimetres higher.
Changes in weather patterns, such as more severe droughts, heat waves, floods and storms can occur — plus variations in rainfall patterns and higher likelihood of bushfires.
All of these factors cause adverse impacts on plants, animals and human health as climate patterns shift.
What causes global warming?
Australia is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change — we all contribute to climate change every day.
Every time we drive our cars or turn on a light switch at home, we release greenhouse gases such carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. This is because the energy we use comes from burning fossil fuels, which emits CO2 into our atmosphere. This traps heat and causes global warming.
There is scientific consensus that global warming is already upon us. The average person is responsible for 27 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
What can I do?
There are simple things you can do right now to reduce your impact on climate change:
- Switch off lights, appliances and equipment when they’re not needed.
- Install energy–efficient compact fluorescent lamps.
- Manage home heating and cooling by insulating, draught–sealing and shading, while setting thermostats appropriately.
- Cut hot water usage by installing a water–efficient showerhead, taking shorter showers and using cold water clothes washing.
- Take reusable bags when you go shopping and refuse plastic bags.
- If you have air conditioning set the thermostat to 18—20 in winter and 26 in summer.
- Install or top–up insulation in ceilings.
- Minimise waste of packaging and materials—refuse, reduce, re–use, recycle.
- Start a compost heap.
- Buy products with less packaging.
Some other initiatives may require a little more effort — however, the environmental benefits and cost savings far outweigh the initial investment:
- When building, renovating or buying a home, install energy–efficient appliances and lighting.
- When purchasing a motor vehicle, buy a fuel–efficient one.
- Buy energy–efficient appliances with low standby power usage.
- When replacing an electric hot water service, install a high efficiency gas or solar unit.
And finally, if your employer allows salary packaging, suggest that they contact the only environmentally friendly salary packaging provider in Australia — Simplygreen Salary Packaging.
Launch the greenhouse emmisions calculator to estimate your current impact on the environment.