related terms: global warming, greenhouse effect
Science: Earth is naturally insulated by a delicate balance of heat-trapping (or “greenhouse”) gases in the atmosphere. When the sun shines on the Earth, some of that heat is absorbed, keeping Earth warm enough to support life. For more about the science, look into the US Environmental Protection Agency’s website at this link, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at this link, and www.wecansolveit.org.
Causes: The problem is that over the last century, we humans have been releasing more and more carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere when we burn fuels and cut down forests. These additional gases have upset the natural balance of our atmosphere, trapping more heat than is healthy for the Earth.
Consequences: The result is human-caused global warming, which brings serious threats from increased flooding to the spread of disease to the disruption of agriculture in many parts of the world. The rising costs of climate change already cost millions of dollars and take thousands of lives annually as estimated by the United Nations. If left unchecked, climate change will continue to cost small businesses, and their employees too. This recent article highlights a study of the costs of climate change.
Solutions: Scientists tell us that stopping global warming is urgent — we have just a few years to turn around the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst effects. The good news is that we can achieve these emissions reductions with effective national policies and international treaties.
Future Legislation and Regulation: New climate legislation is probably around the corner. Small businesses can benefit from taking early action and jump on the energy-efficient bandwagon to be ahead of the pack. For the latest news click here.
Small businesses have a crucial role to play, along with individuals and governments around the world to greatly increase energy efficiency, and commit to stopping climate change. Success is possible, but everyone needs to pitch in. What can you do? Check out our resources in transportation/location, energy and waste reduction/green purchasing. For more small business solutions to climate change, see this link.
*Adapted from www.wecansolveit.org