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Understanding Climate Change

Climate change is one of the many great challenges humanity faces this century.

The growing global population, growing fossil fuel use and growing consumption all put stresses on the Earth’s resources, environment and ecosystem.

We may have already passed the carrying capacity of the planet – at a reasonable and equitable distribution of material resources. The growth path we have been following, powered by fossil fuel, is unsustainable. So we need to start the great transition to a more efficient society powered by renewable sources of energy.

This page is a guide to understanding climate change (and related energy issues): how we got where we are now, what is happening to the Earth and locally to the climate of Vermont and New England – and our responsibility for the choices we face.

Questions About Climate Change

  1. What is driving the present climate change?

    Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas coming from the burning of fossil fuels, is driving the Earth's climate to a warmer state.

  2. What are the Greenhouse Gases?

    The greenhouse gases strongly absorb the Earth’s thermal infrared radiation, so they effectively blanket the Earth, and keep the Earth warmer - by reducing the cooling to space.

  3. The Climate Energy Balance of the Earth

    How does the Earth’s try to stay in energy balance? What is happening to the Earth's energy balance?

  4. How does predicting climate differ from forecasting weather?

    We can predict the climate next summer, but not the day-to-day weather.

  5. What is happening to Vermont?

    As the global climate shifts towards a warmer state, the cold season in Vermont is getting shorter and the warm season longer.

  6. Is Vermont getting warmer?

    Vermont is getting warmer in winter twice as fast as in summer.

  7. Understanding the seasonal climate transitions

    How we can understand climate processes through the seasonal climate transitions (winter, spring, summer and fall).

  8. Is extreme weather related to Climate Change?

    Extreme weather is increasing in the United States and around the world. How is this trend related to climate change?

  9. What are our responsibilities to the Earth?

    Humanity can no longer ignore the response of the Earth.

  10. Why should we be hopeful?

    The choice of hope over despair is all important.

  11. So where do I go from here?

    Here are some suggestions and links for some of the many paths you can take to a sustainable and joyful future!

  12. If you want to hear the truth and be inspired..

    Listen to Kathryn Blume, Vermont's inspirational speaker on climate change, speaking at Bernie Sanders "Get out the Vote Rally" in Montpelier, VT on Nov. 4, 2012 - saying what the presidential campaigns refused to say in public.

  13. The Blue River Declaration: An Ethic of the Earth

    The Questions of our time: understanding our relation to the Earth - drafted by the Blue River Quorum in the ancient forests of the Blue River watershed in Oregon