The Earth should be safe (and habitable) for a few billions of years, but we still need to worry about the impact now of just a few degrees of global warming.
Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the solar wind, guiding the solar particles to the polar regions.
SOHO (ESA & NASA)
When solar particles reach the Earth, they not only produce spectacular auroras but also contribute to the chemical reactions leading to ozone depletion, which in turn influences climate patterns.
As the world's largest rainforest, the Amazon is not only an important carbon sink, but also home to thousands of species of plants and animals and a crucial part of the water cycle.
People tend to interpret things through a lens of their pre-existing beliefs. But they are not immune to changing their view, if you treat them with respect and understanding.
It's not only nuclear bomb tests that disrupt the atmosphere, there are a number of natural events that can do the same. But how long does any damage last?
The coronavirus pandemic caused the UN's annual climate conference to be postponed by a year, but it was also responsible for a drop in carbon emissions. Is it enough and will it last?
Motorways were once seen as a way of reducing congestion in our towns and cities. But the more we build, the more they fill with drivers.
Our intention to buy climate-friendly products does not always match our buying behaviour, especially when we pay more for such products.
Professor John Long, Flinders University
We have had to adapt to several changes to our climate since we started our migration out of Africa many thousands of years ago.
Absolute temperatures are expected to rise more slowly in the tropics than in higher latitudes and polar regions, but the combination of heat and rising humidity will make life more challenging.
Shutterstock/effective stock photos
Methane is a live-fast, die-young greenhouse gas but its impact on the climate can last for hundreds or even thousands of years
Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert…
Geothermal reservoirs supply more than 15% of New Zealand's electricity. The heat energy stored in geothermal fields is vast but not infinite.
In the near future, we may see electric cars supplying power to smart grids or communities with their own independent microgrids.
To limit warming to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels, we'll need to cut global emissions by 7.6% each year this decade. It's difficult, but not impossible.
If agricultural land was used to grow crops, it would limit methane emissions from livestock, but not store a substantial amount of carbon. Growing trees is what makes the difference.
The last time global carbon dioxide levels were around 400ppm was four million years ago. On average, the world was 3℃ warmer, but in high northern latitudes, it was up to 14℃ warmer than today.
The drop in traffic during COVID-19 lockdowns reduced global emissions. If we keep encouraging cycling and working from home beyond the pandemic, our climate goals may become more achievable.
If we had not altered the composition of the atmosphere at all through emitting greenhouse gases, particulate matter and ozone-destroying chemicals, the average temperature would have remained stable.
You can reduce your fuel consumption by 15-20% with improved driving habits alone – reducing emissions and saving money at the same time.