Climate Change 101
Throughout Earth's history, the atmosphere has gone through cycles of warming and cooling that kept the planet in balance and habitable for life. Now this cycle is in danger of becoming out of balance. The culprit: global climate change.
For the past 150 years, humans have been using fossil fuels -- coal, oil and natural gas -- at rates that have increased exponentially. The burning of fossil fuels, combined with cutting down forests, has increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than 30%. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases act like a heat-trapping blanket, causing climate change. The more carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere, the more significant the effects of climate change become.
Ten of the warmest years on record have occurred in the last 15 years.
The impacts of climate change are evident everywhere on the world. Ocean acidification is bleaching coral reefs and harming shellfish... bird migration patterns have shifted... arctic glaciers are shrinking at alarming rates... increased flooding and droughts have put agricultural crops at risk... the examples are endless.
While humans caused climate change, we also have the opportunity put it back in check. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we need to keep temperature rise as far below 2 degrees Celsius as possible to avoid the worst effects of climate change. To achieve this, we must greatly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, use energy more efficiently, achieve sustainable development and protect our forests.
USCAN is collaborating with US NGOs to design and develop effective climate change strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure their implementation at international, national and local levels while promoting equity and sustainable development.