There is a climate emergency because our climate is changing faster than nature can adapt to it, including us. We have a limited time to keep global temperatures within a limit that the Earth can recover from, so we have to take action now.
The climate is the long-term pattern of day-to-day weather. Put simply, the climate is what you have in your wardrobe whereas the weather is what you are wearing today.
Our food and water supplies depend on stable seasonal patterns of temperature, rain, and wind in the UK and elsewhere. In the last 100 years, the earth’s average temperature has increased faster than previously seen – this is known as global warming or global heating. This global heating of the planet is causing our climate to change.
Evidence shows that human activity and our use of fuels like petrol, diesel, gas, and coal are highly likely to be the main cause of global warming. When these fuels are burned they release greenhouse gases which trap heat in the earth’s atmosphere, causing the air and seas to heat up which changes the climate. The greenhouse gases produced when we burn these fuels contain a lot of carbon and so the term ‘carbon emissions’ is often used.
The problem is that current levels of greenhouse gases are higher than they have been over the last 800,000 years and they are rising rapidly, causing the climate to change more rapidly than life and weather systems can adapt to.
Effects of climate change on Scotland
Across Scotland, climate change will bring hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters.
- In summer - more intense rainfall could bring heavy rainstorms with increased surface water flooding.
- In winter - more frequent rainfall could bring increased flooding from rivers and increased damage to buildings from wind-driven rain.
Increased storminess could result in increased coastal erosion, surges and wave overtopping of coastal defences and infrastructure. Sea level rise could affect the viability of some coastal communities, through flooding and erosion
What is climate change?
Here are some useful links if you want to know more about climate change:
- Climate change explained in six graphics – BBC News
- 'Is It Too Late To Stop Climate Change? Well, it's Complicated'
- 3 minutes on what is climate change from September 2020 - BBC
- Climate Change the Facts – a documentary from the BBC in 2019 on the latest science
- Climate change – the signs of the planet. Climate change information, facts and figures.
- Attenborough gives stark warning on climate change to UN - "Climate change could, within a lifetime, destroy "entire cities and societies", Sir David Attenborough has told the UN Security Council.
- Reports — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - The IPCC prepares comprehensive Assessment Reports about knowledge on climate change, its causes, potential impacts and response options. The IPCC also produces Special Reports, which are an assessment on a specific issue
- The Met Office - The met office has one of the largest computers in the world and uses it to track our climate as well as weather reporting
- Climate Change Committee - The UK’s independent adviser on tackling climate change
- Keep Scotland Beautiful - Climate Change Guide