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Climate Change: The Issue of Our Time

It's Nice Outside Today...What's the Big Deal?

lemonade

You're sitting on your favorite chair on your deck. It's a nice day outside. The weather is comfortable and you're sipping your lemonade and thinking...Hey, Life is Good! This Climate Change thing can't be so bad? There will always be good days. And so it's a little hotter every now and then. I can deal with that, I have air conditioning!

Sounds good! .....but you're forgetting the Big Snafu .

The truth is we're altering the planet's climate because of our use of energy derived from fossil fuels. And if we stay on our current path, the future will not be like the past.

Weather Ain't the Same Thing As Climate

seasons

You see, weather and climate are completely different things. Weather changes from week to week, but the climate changes over decades and centuries. In a sense, climate is kind of like a base drum that the weather rides on top of.

The climate we're used to, the timing of seasonal changes and the duration and style of summers and winters, was set in place by natural processes over thousands of years. Our experience of seasonal climate comes from natural processes that we had no say in. We are used to, and expect, the familiar rhythms of the seasons, during which we experience the usual ups and downs in the weather....but the climate we are used to is changing.

Uncharted Waters

coal station

We're entering uncharted waters. Through our heavy use of fossil fuels we're pumping trillions of pounds of C02 into the sky every year. This staggering amount hangs around for hundreds of years holding in excess amounts of the suns energy and heating up the land and the oceans.

And although you can't see it, if CO2 were brown or black, you'd be pretty concerned sitting on your front porch, because the sky would be dark with a haze none of us would ever have imagined.

Unfortunately for us, CO2 is crystal clear. We can't even see the stuff that's coming out of our tailpipes, chimneys and gas grills. If we could, we probably would have done something about it long ago.

C'mon...How Bad Can This Really Be?

Now this doesn't mean you won't be able to sit on your porch anymore. Of course you will. But in the coming years, those hot summer days will be hotter. Some of us will see more rain, flooding, and severe storms. Others will see extended droughts (the folks in the southwest U.S. would be happy to send you some photo's of this).

It turns out that the climate changes we're causing will be a lot like putting our normal weather patterns on steroids; it won't kick in all the time, but on average, weather extremes will become more frequent and potent.

heatwave

And what about those warm summers? Well, the people who study this stuff are saying they could be a whole lot warmer. This is something of a personal thing, but at the ClimateStore, we kind of like the way things have been. When future summertime highs are 10 - 12ºF warmer than previous all-time highs...now that's getting uncomfortable.

And remember when it used to cool down on hot summer evenings giving us all a break? (Thinking of that porch again?) Well even summer nights are looking to be overly warm. Not too much fun to think about really.

Our - Very Real - Link with Nature

So you might be thinking ......Hey, I can manage that. I'll hunker down when I need to...right?

Well as tough as some of these future weather events could be, even this isn't the core of the issue. The deeper issue is that we're on a course to permanently alter the Natural World.

Now hold on...we know what you're thinking....what the heck does this have to do with me? The game is on the 30 minutes, the kids are coming home from school, I need to go downtown to pick something up...spare me the lecture!

link with nature

O.K. no lecture today, but put this in your thinking cap. We rely on Nature far more than you think. Let's start with food. For most of us, our food is grown in places far from our homes; and we mean all of it: your flour, rice, dairy, produce, and if you're lucky fish. Think of the varieties of foods that are in your grocery store. The truth is we depend on hundreds of plant and animal species to survive. And none of this bounty is provided without the hand of Nature.

Sure, we're pretty good at farming (thanks guys), but we don't control the timing of rain, or when spring comes, or the regularity of summer rains, or the intensity and duration of seasonal heat or cold waves, nor the winter snowfall in the Rockies that fills the Colorado river. This is what we call natural. Each and every one of us relies deeply on nature. Think about that the next time you open your fridge.

And it's more than just food...nature provides medicines that could cure cancer and other serious illnesses. It provides new materials, it has amazing recreational benefits, it is the basis of certain ways of life. Nature is our forests, our wetlands, mountain ranges, lakes, migrating birds and animals, ocean life, coral reefs, and the rhythm of the seasons in our city parks and backyards. And if we don't start reducing our carbon footprint soon, we're on a path to disrupt it all.

Feeling a little less comfortable in your porch rocker.....we certainly are.

The Animal Kingdom

tiger cub

So this brings us to animals.

As you might have guessed already, at the ClimateStore, we're fond of animals. When we take time off, many of us can be found out enjoying the natural world or at a local zoo or aquarium.

Now we humans are pretty cool, but we have nothing on animals. Animals are perfectly adapted to live in their own part of the planet: some swim, some play, they all hunt, some can fly 1000's of miles, others can dive a mile down in the ocean, others live even deeper.

Animals are both part of and from the natural world. And the interesting thing is we're related. We're made from the same stuff of life. So in addition to thinking we need to preserve the climate for ourselves, kids and grandkids, at the ClimateStore, we also believe in stewardship. We need to do our part to take care of the natural world, which we believe is a gift by any measure.

Baseball and Hot Dogs for Our Kids and Grandkids

There was a time when most of our ancestors worked on farms. Our great grandparents knew the importance of winter snowfall to support spring crops, the timing of spring to allow for planting, the style and duration of summer rains, and the timing of fall to allow for good harvests. They knew the style and importance of predictable seasons. Well those days are long gone. Less than 2% of us (in the U.S.) farm. We have taken on new roles and activities. So for most of us, nature has taken on a different meaning.

There are so many ways we depend on the natural world. Although we don't think about it, it underpins our very way of life. Our food, our parks, the forests, wetlands, oceans, seasonal variation, and entire ecosystems, they all depend on the climate; the one we knew in the past.

baseball

But now we have new information. The science is robust. The climate is warming and we know it's due to our use of fossil fuels. If we don't change soon we know the impacts will be severe.

Now we can't all stop using gas and coal tomorrow - that's impossible and impractical. But we must reduce our use of fossil fuels and shift our energy mix over time. The truth is the clock is ticking .

At the ClimateStore, we like the way things have been. We like baseball and hot dogs on a comfortable spring afternoon in the park. We like the timing of spring, of summer and fall foliage. We like the idea of passing on to the next generation all the good things, from the natural world, we have come to know and enjoy.

And fortunately, there is really good news: there's still time to act and it's Fun and Easy! But we need to get moving!



Looking for More Information on the Impact of Climate Change?

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, or dig into the Consensus Reports , which have lots of information on Climate Change impacts in the U.S. and elsewhere, right down to regional information.

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