What is Climate Change?

Atmosphere composition

Earth’s atmosphere is made up of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), and a small percentage of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).

Greenhouse effect

Greenhouse gases trap warmth from the sun and make life on Earth possible. Without the influence of the greenhouse effect on our planet, the average surface temperature would be -18°C (average temperature on Earth with the greenhouse effect is 15°C).

Source: NIWA, https://www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/climate/information-and-resources/clivar/greenhouse

What causes Climate Change?

The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has risen quickly over the last 150 years (since the industrial revolution) because of fossil fuels burning, deforestation etc. The temperature is correlated to the CO2 concentration as shown in the graphs below.

Not only are temperatures rising, but the whole climate is changing: e.g. we are seeing increases in extreme weather events (storms, droughts etc), melting of the ice packs, sea level rise, ocean acidification, etc.

Climate Change is real and is already happening

In the next section, we will see what the impact of the Climate Change on Wairarapa could be.

Back to Climate Change main menu.


South Wairarapa District Council