Climate Change Explained
The overwhelming consensus from scientists around the world is that climate change is a reality. Greenhouse gases from human activities are trapping more of the sun’s heat in the earth’s atmosphere and warming the earth. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas tied to human activity, are at an 800,000 year high due in large part to the burning of fossil fuels. Greenhouse gases are emitted by a variety of activities, from energy generation, to agriculture to transportation, nearly every human activity has a ‘carbon footprint.’ These gases are trapping more of the sun’s heat in the earth’s atmosphere and warming the earth. Over the last century, average global temperatures rose by more than 1°F, and some regions warmed by as much as 4°F, with predictions for continued temperature increases in the coming years. While this may not seem like much of a change, it has dramatic effects on the ecosystems that support our way of life.
How Does Climate Change Affect My Community?
In addition to causing an increase in average global surface temperature, climate change can disrupt agricultural systems and water supplies, and displace entire populations due to rising sea levels. Click here to see the predicted sea-level rise in Union City [PDF]. The effects of climate change can be experienced on a local level in various ways: greater temperature increases than ever before, and more wildfires as a result; reduced water supply due to reduced snow pack; increased flooding from extreme weather and sea level rise; species migration, endangerment, habitat loss, and extinction; more insect infestations; and increased irrigation demand.
What is Union City Doing
Union City’s Climate Action Plan is a plan that directly responds to the reality of climate change through preventative and adaptive measures. These strategies all directly or indirectly involve reducing the GHG emissions produced by City government, residents, and businesses. Climate change aside, most of these actions are just good decisions. Reducing emissions in Union City makes for better air quality, creating a healthier place to live and raise our families. Whether you’re using natural gas to heat water, petroleum to fuel a car, electricity to light your home, or water to keep your garden flourishing, using less water and energy leaves more money in your bank account. Recycling can turn waste into raw materials that can be used to create new products. Composting can turn green waste into useful fertilizer for your garden.
What can you do?
- Check out the Climate Action Plan, and figure out which actions you can apply to your own life
- Try out the tips suggested in each section of the Green Union City website
- Try to off-set your carbon footprint by planting a garden or tree. Trees and plants “breathe” carbon dioxide, so a garden and/or tree will help sequester greenhouse gases