Causes and impacts of climate change

The Climate Emergency (sometimes referred to as the climate crisis) is a term used to describe the dangerous impacts of global warming and climate change to ecosystems and people across our planet.

Climate change is happening now. It's human activities that are causing our planet to heat up and our climate to change. Impacts of climate change include long-term disruption to weather patterns, sea level rise and more frequent and intense extreme weather across the globe.

We’ve seen harrowing news stories about extreme weather events in places far from home including the recent heatwaves and forest fires in the USA, Canada and Siberia. In Europe we’ve also had extreme heat with wildfires in Greece and Turkey, while extreme rainfall has led to massive floods in western Europe. Homes became dangerously overheated in the heatwaves. And homes, businesses and infrastructure were destroyed in the fires and floods. Many people died. Ecosystems have been impacted too – billions of animals are estimated to have been killed in the 2019/20 Australian bushfires.

Such extreme events are taking place closer to home too - such as thunderstorms and downpours causing severe flooding in Scotland last August. Homes and businesses were flooded, infrastructure damaged and a landslip resulted in the derailment of a train.

It’s human activities increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in our planet’s atmosphere that are causing our planet to heat up (global warming), which is turn is causing our climate to change. These activities include:

  • Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas to fuel our vehicles, heat and light our buildings, power industry and create stuff
  • The way we produce food, such as raising cattle and use of fertilisers
  • Landfilling our waste
  • Deforestation and burning trees, and draining of peat bogs that absorb greenhouse gases

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