What is Climate Change?
Climate change, is a change in weather patterns due to an increase in the Earth's surface temperature. The Earth's surface has risen an average of one degree over the past century. Although one degree doesn't sound like much, it can cause, and has caused some extreme effects. In some areas (Australia included) climate change means more intense droughts and extremely dry conditions. In other areas climate change means increased rainfall as well as severe flooding and storms.
The general consensus in the world scientific community is that the climate change currently underway is caused by the increase in greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activity. Current predictions are that changes in the global climate will continue well into the future.
The Science of Climate Change - Questions and Answers (1849 kb) is a booklet prepared by the Australian Academy of Science to address the confusion created by contradictory information in the public domain. It is structured around 7 questions and easy to understand.
Visit the CSIRO website for detailed information on the research into climate change.
What is the Greenhouse Effect?
The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon needed to trap the sun's warmth and maintain the earth's surface temperature at a level necessary to support life.
Light energy emitted from the sun is radiated off the earth's surface in the form of heat. Most of this heat is re-radiated towards space, but some is trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases. These gases maintain the heat balance of the earth and the natural greenhouse effect keeps the earth at approximately 33°C warmer than it would otherwise be. Greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), ozone (O2), nitrous oxide (N20) and halocarbons.
Human activities are increasing the level of greenhouse gases (with the exception of water vapour) in the atmosphere.
Some gasses occur naturally and others are exclusively man made. An excess and increase in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity is contributing to an anticipated rapid warming of the earth's surface resulting in climate change.
The result is a change in climatic conditions that will impact social, economic and ecological conditions throughout the world.
Visit the U.S. Energy Information Administration website to find out more about greenhouse gases and how they affect the climate
The term 'global warming' is often referred to as 'climate change' but they are in fact different.
- 'Global warming' is a gradual increase of the earth's surface temperature due to increases in greenhouse gas emissions.
- 'Climate change' refers to long term changes in climate, rainfall and temperature.
Although different, the ideas behind 'global warming' and 'climate change' are closely linked. As the Earth is heating up (global warming), the increase in the Earth's temperature causes the weather patterns to change (climate change).
Managing Climate Change Impacts Locally
Campbelltown Council has undertaken a range of initiatives to address Climate Change. Based on an initial risk assessment undertaken in 2009, the key impacts for Campbelltown are:
- Density of developments influencing policy provisions;
- Tree Management;
- Provision of sporting surfaces and recreation facilities in a fit for purpose state;
- Increased costs for managing community health;
- Managing changes to HACC services;
- Managing the impacts of the Greater 30 Year Plan for SA on Council business;
- Inspection regime for Council roads
- Increased costs to manage Commonwealth Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme;
- Increased costs to meet capital renewal of asset life cycle;
- Reduced aesthetics and amenity of council vegetation;
- Change to biodiversity of the region.
In 2011 Council endorsed a set of strategic directions for Climate Change Strategic Directions(158 kb)
Council is now participating in the development of a Regional Adaptation Plan for the Eastern Region of Adelaide to assess how climate change will impact the region as a whole and collectively how the region will be placed to respond to this as well as the adaptive capacity of the region. The project called "Resilient East" is a collaboration between the City of Campbelltown, the Cities of Burnside, Norwood Payneham & St Peters, Prospect, Tea Tree Gully and Unley, the Town of Walkerville and Adelaide City Council. For more information on the development of the plan visit the web site here.
Other initiatives that the City of Campbelltown has undertaken to directly reduce it's own energy use include the installation of nearly 100kW of Solar Panels on Council owned buildings, inclusion of energy effiency features for new buildings such as the new Campbelltown Function Centre and retrofit of other buildings incluidng the Council Offices. More details of this and other programs to help the community can be found at PowerDown Campbelltown.
What can you do?
Live more sustainably
There are things we can all do to combat climate change and play a role in protecting the future environment and way of life in Australia; whether it is at home, work or school.
- Find out what climate change events are on in your community and get involved. E.g. events such as 'Earth Hour'.
- Reduce your Carbon Footprint - everyday choices such as how you travel, turning equipment off, use of energy saving appliances... can help in reducing your carbon footprint.
- Share with others your own ideas about climate change and how to reduce your carbon footprint.
For more tips on what you can do about climate change visit the following websites:
- Sustainable Living Guide
- The Nature Conservancy - Climate Saving Tips
- PowerDown Campbelltown website
Reduce your energy use
Did you know that half of your greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity use? Luckily it's easy to reduce emissions by following the tips from the above web sites or choosing to produce your own energy! Installing solar panels has become much more affordable in recent years so the pay off period in savings on your electricity bills has become much shorter. Find more information on buying and installing solar panels here.