Weather can be described as a short term, day-to-day state of our atmosphere. Stretching from minutes, weeks and months. A lot of factors combine and work together to create our weather. We usually talk about the weather when we say things like “Yep, it’s gonna be a real stinka today” or “Bloody cold today mate” or “Will it rain this week?”
On the other hand, climate refers to a more long-term state. It is the weather of a place averaged over a period of time, e.g. 30 years. We talk about climate change in term of years, decades and centuries. , studying changes in wind patterns, ocean surface temperatures and precipitation over the equator, taking into account ‘the bigger picture.’ Questions about climate would be “How much warmer will the Earth be 50 years from now?” and “How much will the sea level rise?”
Hence, the weather being your mood and climate being your personality, as metaphorically used by J. Marshall Shepherd to simplify this concept, makes a hell of a lot of sense! Your mood today may not tell me much about your personality. You might be having a bad day and be in a not-so-great mood but usually have a happy go lucky personality!
Forecasting weather and climate
When you watch the news and the weather forecaster is telling you things like the temperature, humidity, wind and whether it will rain tomorrow. That information is predicted from scientific and mathematical models, which incorporate observations to estimate future conditions, quite accurately these days. Of course, the further ahead you are looking, the more complex the models and the statistical analysis will have to be.
Gravity is a thing and so is climate change
Human activity has accelerated climate change. According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Australia’s climate and oceans have warmed over 1˚C from 1910, leading to an increase in (and marine heatwaves. Sea levels around Australia are also rising and the water acidifying. There has also been a long-term increase in extreme fire weather and the length of the fire season across large parts of Australia.
Globally, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continue to rise, with carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations reaching above 400 ppm (parts per million) from 2016. The main contributor to this being emissions from the burning of fossil fuels to produce our energy. Global sea levels have risen over 20cm since 1880 and are accelerating. Air temperatures have warmed over 1˚C since recording began (in 1850) and each of the last four decades have been warmer than the previous one.
Image source: Berkleyearth.org
There are people out there who refuse to believe climate change is real. Even though these numbers mentioned might be small, their consequences over time can be catastrophic leaving damaging short-term and long-term effects. Consequences of climate change are already visible now. Due to the overall warming on the Earth, the ice in the North and South poles is breaking up and melting. This causes a rise in sea levels and affects any wildlife reliant on stable ice to breed and survive, such as seals and penguins. We are also experiencing hotter days, 2018 was the fourth hottest year recorded (so far), with land and ocean surface temperatures rising 0.79˚C above the 20th-century average.
Check out this NASA page for more evidence of climate change. It is important, now more than ever, that we take a stand, educate ourselves, and do what we can individually and as a population to combat climate change.
Image source: The Guardians of Democracy
What can you do to help fight climate change?
A big change starts with many small steps, and we all know what a massive difference people can achieve when they work together. Here are some things you can do to help fight climate change:
- Green your commute: take public transport, ride a bike, carpool, switch to an electric or hybrid car
- Use energy wisely—you’ll save $$ too!: unplug electronics when they are not in use, convert to energy efficient light bulbs, wash clothes in cold water, use your dryer less—it uses a lot of energy— and consider the Energy Star rating when buying new appliances
- Eat green: Grow your own food, buy organic and don’t waste food where possible
- Collective political voice: vote for a cleaner future
What is Australia doing to combat climate change?
Currently, the Australian Government is trying to meet its climate change targets, improve the environment, and support an international program, by putting in place a suite of policies to reduce emissions without compromising economic growth and increasing energy prices.
The Government’s climate change plan includes:
- Reducing emissions* by 5% below 2000 levels by 2020
- Reducing emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030
- Doubling our renewable energy capacity by 2020 via innovation, creating jobs and a cleaner future
- Delivering 23% in R
- Improving energy productivity by 40% by 2030
- Ensuring big businesses do their part to reduce emissions
- Helping protect our green spaces (e.g. Great Barrier Reef)
- Investing in innovation and clean technology to provide cleaner future
How does it hope to achieve this? Through programs such as the:
- Emissions Reduction Fund – A fund providing an additional $2 billion (on top of $2.55 billion allocated in 2014) to continue the momentum towards reaching a 20130-emissions reduction target by supporting Australian businesses, farmers and land managers.
- Renewable Energy Target – A scheme designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector and to encourage sustainable electrical generation from renewable resources.
- Solar Communities Program – A $5 million program to deliver low electrical cost through the installation of solar panels, solar hot water and solar connected battery systems.
There’s a whole list of programs and policies here for a more comprehensive look at how the Australian Government is planning to combat climate change.
Change starts from you and me, and it starts now.
*Emission refers to the release of air pollutants into the atmosphere. Air pollutants include exhaust gas, coal burned from power stations creating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and other greenhouse gases.