What causes Climate Change?

The greenhouse effect occurs naturally when heat from the Earth’s surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).

Greenhouse gases are naturally present in the air, and allow the Earth’s atmosphere to be warm enough to support life.

However, human activities such as burning of fossil fuels for energy and industrial production, and clearing of forests to raise livestock, increases the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere.

These additional GHGs trap even more heat in the atmosphere, making the Earth warmer. Global warming leads to long-term climate change.

The Enhanced Greenhouse Effect
Photo Credit: National Climate Change Secretariat

The consensus among the scientific community is that climate change is the result of a complex combination of natural and man-made activity. The findings of theĀ United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an internationally accepted authority on climate change that provides comprehensive scientific assessments on climate change, indicate that human activities are indeed speeding up climate change.