Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat from the Sun in the atmosphere and is causing the climate to warm through the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have been increasing over the past 150 years due to human activity, such as burning fossil fuels for transportation and generating electricity. The warming climate is negatively impacting the Earth’s systems in many ways. To slow climate warming, solutions are needed that both stop the addition of new greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and remove greenhouse gases that are already there. Because climate warming is already causing change, we must also invest in solutions that help people to adapt to these changes in ways that keep us safe.
Climate Change Mitigation
Mitigation efforts will both slow down how quickly carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere and help to remove carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere. There are many different strategies to mitigate climate change, including the following: moving away from the use of fossil fuels for generating electricity and transportation, increasing energy efficiency, eating lower on the food chain, and increasing ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as by reforestation.
Climate Change Adaptation
Actions that make people and places less vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are called adaptations. These actions are needed on the individual, community, and even global levels. Adaptation efforts can be challenging to implement, but because the climate is already changing, it is important to find ways to decrease the negative effects on people and environments. Examples of adaptations include planting crops that are drought resistant, building water storage systems, constructing buildings to withstand severe weather, and investing in health and education.
About the Climate Solutions Cards
The climate solutions cards contain examples of current actions people and communities are taking to mitigate or adapt to climate change. These solutions could provide a springboard for rich discussions with students about climate change impacts, challenges to implementing solutions, or equity and social justice. The links below provide, in many cases, the source material for the examples used on the climate solution cards.
This activity was developed by Melissa Rummel at the UCAR Center for Science Education.