Climate change is a complex area, requiring many hours of study and learning. The intent of this tab is to give you a few basic pieces of information and then point you to the experts in this field for more depth and details.
Climate Change Basics
Changes in the earth’s temperature, sea level and acidity, animal and plant diversity and extinction are among the many effects of climate change. Climate change is happening due to increased greenhouse gasses in the earth’s atmosphere, resulting in warming of the planet. The buildup of greenhouse gasses act as a blanket over the earth. The main greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (NO2) and F-gases (chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride).
“Climate Change” and “Global Warming” phrases are often used interchangeably. However, global warming is just one of the ways in which our climate is affected by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases. Global warming refers to the recent rise in the average global temperature.
Overall Impacts of Climate Change
Because of the increase in the global average temperature, climate change impacts are many and varied affecting our environment, health and economy. They include:
Impacts of Climate Change in Indiana
Temperatures are expected to increase by approximately 3℉ in this decade and by 5-6℉ by the 2050’s. Summers will be extremely hot with up to 39 days above 95℉ by mid-century. Frost-free days will increase from an average 175 days per year to the low 200’s.
Precipitation will increase about 6-8% per year and will likely increase in the winter and spring months with less precipitation in the summer and fall months. Rain will take the place of snow. Snow events greater than 2 inches will happen about half as often by mid-century.
Climate change is also a suspected factor in extreme events, such as droughts, flooding and wildfires.
Many areas will be affected by the changing climate including Hoosiers’ health, forest ecosystems, urban green spaces, agriculture, aquatic ecosystems, tourism & recreation, energy, water and infrastructure.
Causes of Climate Change
Scientists overwhelming agree that climate change is the result of man-made causes. Human activities have released large amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution (approximately 1760 for Britain and 1830 for United States). Burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, is the primary contributor to climate change, more than any other human activity.
Less impactful causes include:
For more depth and details, visit the following resources:
U.S. AUTHORITIES ON CLIMATE CHANGE
U.S. Global Change Research Program – https://www.globalchange.gov/
(produces the National Climate Assessment)
NOAA – https://www.climate.gov/maps-data
National Academy of Sciences – https://www.nationalacademies.org/climate
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – https://www.epa.gov/climatechange-science
GLOBAL AUTHORITIY ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – https://www.ipcc.ch
PEW Research Center – https://www.pewresearch.org/search/climate
Hoosier Environmental Council – https://www.hecweb.org
NOAA Billion-Dollar Disasters, Indiana Climate & Clean Energy Polls, and Scorching Hot Summers, 2022