The earth’s climate has changed many times during the planet’s history, with events ranging from the ice age to long periods of warmth. Historically, natural factors such as volcanic eruptions, changes in the earth’s orbit and the amount of energy released from the sun have affected the earth’s climate. Beginning in the late 18th century, human activities associated with the Industrial Revolution also have changed the composition of the atmosphere and are likely influencing the earth’s climate.
Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate, such as temperature, precipitation or wind, lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change may result from:
Natural factors, such as changes in the sun’s intensity or slow changes in the earth’s orbit around the sun.
Natural processes within the climate system, such as changes in ocean circulation
Human activities that change the atmosphere’s composition such as burning fossil fuels and activities that change the land surface such as deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, and desertification
A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment and in particular climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation. The carbon footprint is a measurement of all greenhouse gases we individually produce and has units of tonnes, or kilograms, of carbon dioxide equivalent. Visit the Carbon Footprint website to calculate your footprint.