Climate change is a shift in temperature, precipitation, wind and other long-term weather patterns. There is broad scientific consensus that our climate is changing - both regionally and globally - largely due to the combustion of fossil fuels and other human activities that increase atmospheric concentrations of:

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
  • Methane (CH4)
  • Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
  • Other heat-trapping gases

These greenhouse gases form a "blanket" of pollution that traps heat in the atmosphere and causes climate instability characterized by severe weather events such as storms, droughts, floods, heat waves and rising sea levels.

Climate change is a worldwide concern because if it continues, there will be significant impacts on people, natural resources and economic conditions around the globe. While the magnitude of these potential changes is difficult to predict, there is broad agreement that they are coming and will dramatically affect many aspects of our daily lives.

If local climate trends continue as projected, weather patterns in Boston may, within the next 50 to 100 years, more closely resemble those found today in Richmond, Virginia, or even Atlanta, Georgia. Climate change on this scale would have wide-ranging consequences for everyone in Massachusetts.

Modeling done by the Union of Concerned Scientists has projected local impacts across the Northeast, including 25 to 55 more days each summer with temperatures higher than 90 degrees; a rise in sea level of up to 33 inches, resulting in dramatically more erosion and flooding from storms; and a significant increase in the number of days when streams have very low flows.