Climate Change: What We Know - What We Can Do

If you watched the opening of the Rio Olympics you saw a brief visual about climate change.  A seedling tree native to Rio will be planted in a park in honor of the athletes.  This is good -- to raise awareness.  But what do scientists now know about climate change and how can each of us make a difference?  Linked here are some excellent, recent resources about climate change, its impacts and what you can do.

These are just some of the indicators measured globally over many decades that show that the Earth’s climate is warming. White arrows indicate increasing trends; black arrows indicate decreasing trends. All the indicators expected to increase in a warming world are increasing, and all those expected to decrease in a warming world are decreasing. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC, based on data updated from Kennedy et al. 2010).

These are just some of the indicators measured globally over many decades that show that the Earth’s climate is warming. White arrows indicate increasing trends; black arrows indicate decreasing trends. All the indicators expected to increase in a warming world are increasing, and all those expected to decrease in a warming world are decreasing. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC, based on data updated from Kennedy et al. 2010).

The National Climate Assessment 2014 was created by a team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee, and was reviewed by experts, including a panel of the National Academy of Sciences. The report can be explored interactively at

  http://nca2014.globalchange.gov

"What is new over the last decade is that we know with increasing certainty that climate change is happening now. While scientists continue to refine projections of the future, observations unequivocally show that climate is changing and that the warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases. These emissions come mainly from burning coal, oil, and gas, with additional contributions from forest clearing and some agricultural practices.

Global climate is projected to continue to change over this century and beyond, but there is still time to act to limit the amount of change and the extent of damaging impacts."

A compact brochure describing expected abrupt climate changes and research: 

 http://www.globalchange.gov/browse/reports/sap-34-abrupt-climate-change-brochure

www.globalchange.gov     Extensive resource on climate change 

www.globalchange.gov     Extensive resource on climate change 

Americans' per capita emissions of heat-trapping gases is 21 tons—four times the global average.  Ten suggestions for reducing your impact (summarized from Union of Concerned Scientists):

1.  The car you drive: the most important personal climate decision.  Drive less, carpool, use public transit, buy a more efficient car (hybrid or electric if possible).

2.  Make your house more air tight.  Most homes lose up to 25% heat/AC.

3.  Buy and use a programmable thermostat.

4.  Eat less meat, especially less beef.

5.  Use power strips at home and office.

6.  Upgrade your refrigerator and AC if older to high efficiency models.

7.  Monitor your electricity to learn where your energy use can be reduced.

8.  Buy LED lights.

9.  Wash clothes in cold water.

10. BUY LESS STUFF!

We'll add:

 Join local environmental groups.  Make a difference where you live (plant natives, pull invasives, reduce lawn, protect remaining habitat).  Reuse, recycle, compost.  Choose solar or wind as the source for your electricity.  Share info with family, neighbors, and friends.  Contact local political leaders on issues of concern.

For more ideas see our blog "Go Green."  

Share your successes with us on Facebook or in a blog post here.