What is climate change?
A climate is the usual weather conditions in a general area or over a time period. Climate can be different in different places and for different seasons.
Earth’s climate refers to all the climates around the world together. It takes hundreds or millions of years to change, but those changes can pose risks to the survival of nature and human life.
Right now, humans are changing the climate by causing the temperature of the Earth to increase. Small changes in Earth’s temperature can cause drastic changes in the world, like causing snow and ice to melt and oceans to rise. Some places are getting hotter and causing forest fires, while other places are experiencing more frequent and dangerous hurricanes.
Humans are causing climate change by burning coal, oil, and gas to get energy. People use energy to drive cars, heat and cool houses, cook and refrigerate food, etc. But even more than people’s individual energy usage, big companies are responsible for the majority of the the global emissions in the world.
How can I help address climate change?
The Ontario government lists simple actions that people can take to address climate change.
Instead of burning gas by driving a car, you can walk, bike, or take public transportation to get to where you need to go. If you have to drive, consider carpooling with others.
You should buy local food from possible, ideally from grocery stores and markets you can simply walk to. Use reusable shopping bags, and make sure to compost food scraps.
To conserve energy at home, turn off your thermostat when you’re not at home or make it lower/higher when you’re sleeping. Unplug electronics when you’re not using them and use energy-efficient appliances and products. Try taking shorter showers - keeping them under five minutes can save up to 3,500 litres of water per month!
One of the greatest impacts you can have is by reducing waste. This means reusing and recycling items, buying used items and things with little or no packaging, and using products that are environmentally-friendly.
Whether you’re in school or going to an office, you can help address climate change by using electronic documents instead of print, using natural light instead of artificial, and turning off electronics after your’e done.
How do I join the global fight to stop climate change?
It’s going to take more than individual lifestyle changes to diminish the effects of climate change. Many people and organizations are concerned about the future of our planet.
If you are too, consider:
- Joining an organization that’s part of Canada’s Climate Action Network
- Finding a group at your school that strategizes around campaigns for climate justice, like the ones listed here for Mississauga schools
- Learn about and support legal battles like this youth-led climate lawsuit for ecojustice
- Get involved in Ontario’s Youth Environment Council