Climate change, is a change in weather patterns due to an increase in the Earth's surface temperature. The Earth's surface has risen an average of one degree over the past century. Although one degree doesn't sound like much, it can cause, and has caused some extreme effects. In some areas (Australia included) climate change means more intense droughts and extremely dry conditions. In other areas climate change means increased rainfall as well as severe flooding and storms.
The general consensus in the world scientific community is that the climate change currently underway is caused by the increase in greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activity. Current predictions are that changes in the global climate will continue well into the future.
The Science of Climate Change - Questions and Answers (1849 kb) is a booklet prepared by the Australian Academy of Science to address the confusion created by contradictory information in the public domain. It is structured around 7 questions and easy to understand.
Visit the CSIRO website for detailed information on the research into climate change.
The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon needed to trap the sun's warmth and maintain the earth's surface temperature at a level necessary to support life.
Light energy emitted from the sun is radiated off the earth's surface in the form of heat. Most of this heat is re-radiated towards space, but some is trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. These gases maintain the heat balance of the earth and the natural greenhouse effect keeps the earth at approximately 33°C warmer than it would otherwise be. Greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), ozone (O2), nitrous oxide (N20) and halocarbons.
Human activities are increasing the level of greenhouse gases (with the exception of water vapour) in the atmosphere.
Some gasses occur naturally and others are exclusively man made. An excess and increase in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity is contributing to an anticipated rapid warming of the earth's surface resulting in climate change.
The result is a change in climatic conditions that will impact social, economic and ecological conditions throughout the world.
Visit the U.S. Energy Information Administration website to find out more about greenhouse gases and how they affect the climate
The term 'global warming' is often referred to as 'climate change' but they are in fact different.
Although different, the ideas behind 'global warming' and 'climate change' are closely linked. As the Earth is heating up (global warming), the increase in the Earth's temperature causes the weather patterns to change (climate change).
Climate change is one of the greatest social, economic and environmental challenges of our time. Increasing temperatures leading to climate change are having a great impact on Australia's weather patterns and environment, through impacting rainfall, temperature, bushfire frequency, health, heritage and biodiversity for current and future generations in Australia.
Over the past 100 years, the average temperature in Australia has raised an average of one degree. Estimates are that by 2030 Australia will face a further one degree warming in temperature, longer duration of droughts, up 25 percent increase of days of very high or extreme fire danger and an increase in storm surges and severe weather conditions.
Australia is very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as we are already the driest inhabited continent on earth and are heavily exposed to the dangers of extreme heat and drought.
Visit the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency website for more information on the impacts of Climate change in Australia.
Live more sustainably
There are things we can all do to combat climate change and play a role in protecting the future environment and way of life in Australia; whether it is at home, work or school.
For more tips on what you can do about climate change visit the following websites
Buy green electricity
Did you know that half of your greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity use? Luckily it's easy to reduce emissions by signing up to Green Power electricity. GreenPower is renewable energy sourced from the sun, the wind, water and waste, and is supplied by an energy retailer on your behalf.
The City of Campbelltown is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing GreenPower for most of its properties and street lighting.
You too can switch to GreenPower and help reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions and help the renewable energy industry grow. Find out about purchasing GreenPower for your home or business by calling your local energy retailer. Be sure to purchase government accredited GreenPower, which is shown by the "GreenPower" tick.
To find out more, visit the GreenPower website.