There’s no more debating if climate change is a reality. Scientists agree: the world is getting warmer and human activity is largely responsible. Today, our planet is hotter than it has been in 2,000 years, and on track to grower hotter than it’s been in two million years.
Right now we are in the midst of a climate crisis – it is a climate emergency – yet for the last several elections, even the politicians who claim to care about our future have done little more than say they believe climate change is real.
Talking points won’t cut it anymore. If we are all going to make it out of the climate crisis, we have to transform New Zealand’s transport, energy and especially the agriculture sector, which alone accounts for around 50% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.
What We Know About Climate Change
Years of scientific investigation have given us a clear understanding of what’s causing climate change and how humans are contributing. It works like this:
- Certain gases in the atmosphere — like carbon dioxide — create what’s called the greenhouse effect, trapping in heat and regulating the Earth’s temperature.
- Burning fossil fuels releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide. While not the most potent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide is by far the most emitted by human activities.
- More greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means a more intense greenhouse effect, causing the Earth to keep getting warmer.
- There’s more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere now than there’s been in the past 150,000 years.
We’re also learning more about the impacts of climate change, many of which have serious consequences for humans and wildlife.
- Climate change is closely linked with the rise in extreme weather events we’ve experienced in recent years. Hurricanes, typhoons, floods and drought are all made worse by climate change.
- Melting polar ice caused by warmer temperatures has huge ripple effects. Not only does it threaten the habitat of species like polar bears and penguins, it’s causing our sea levels to rise and threatening coastal cities and communities.
How We’re Changing the Climate
Global temperatures have risen and fallen over the Earth’s history for natural reasons. What’s unique about the warming we’re experiencing now is that it can’t be explained by those natural reasons, and that it’s happening faster than ever before.
Human activity plays a central role. The fossil fuels we burn to power our homes, businesses, cars and more all release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and deforestation for timber and agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Humans are at the center of the problem, but this also means the power is in our hands. The choices we make today will determine the climate of the future.
Still need more information? Don’t just take it from us. Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that the Earth’s temperature is rising and human activity plays a central role — and NASA has compiled the studies to prove it.
Greenpeace and climate change
Greenpeace is one of the key organisations working on climate change and global warming in New Zealand, and pushing for climate action. We are the biggest international organisation working on climate change in NZ, and we get results. You can support our work in a number of ways, including a small regular donation, a one-off gift or you can think about leaving something to Greenpeace in your will.
What can I do about climate change?
People often ask: what can I do to stop climate change? What can I do to help get climate action? There are many things you can do. Here’s a start!