Climate Change 101



In 2014 climate scientist Kimberly Nicholas made a sign for a rally titled:

CLIMATE SCIENCE 101, with 5 key ideas:

1. It’s warming.

2. It’s us.

3. We’re sure.

4. It’s bad.

5. We can fix it.

Ever since, these have been a cornerstone of climate change communication.  To see Dr. Nicholas’ original poster:

Climate can be understood as the long term (20-30 years or more) average of weather – temperature, precipitation patterns, etc.  Of course, the climate is always changing, but the term Climate Change refers to a rapid directional change in the climate that is currently occurring due primarily to the burning of fossil fuels in the past 200 years.  This is also called Anthropogenic Climate Change, meaning caused by human activity.

The primary cause of climate change is use of fossil fuels for energy.  Extracting and burning fossil fuels has released huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - now over 30 billion tonnes annually - which has overloaded the capacity of the natural carbon cycle.  Carbon dioxide traps heat, and the increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is heating up Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, causing sea level rise and altering the patterns of temperature and precipitation around the globe that we call climate.

For more information on the science of climate change, NASA’s Global Climate Change page is an excellent resource: