What is Climate Change?

 

Greenhouse gas effects graphic
Climate change is a shift in long-term global weather patterns: temperature, precipitation, wind, and more. There is scientific consensus that our climate is changing, largely as a result of human activities. These include the combustion of fossil fuels, which increases atmospheric concentrations of: Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) Nitrous oxide (N2O), and 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.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an 80% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is essential to averting the worst effects of climate change.

How Will Climate Change Effect Massachusetts?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is expected to experience warmer temperatures, increased frequency and intensity of storms, public water supply shortages, rising sea levels, and increased erosion which threaten our coastal areas. Recognizing the gravity of these threats, Massachusetts state agencies are taking the lead in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

What is Massachusetts Doing?

Executive Order 484 has committed all state agencies to greenhouse gas reduction targets of 25% by 2012, 40% by 2020, and 80% by 2050. Additionally, all 29 state and community colleges and UMass campuses have signed on to the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, which will result in long-term commitments to carbon neutrality.

Climate Information and Resources




This information is provided by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Leading by Example Program