Climate Action Shoreline: What is climate?

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Photo by Lee Lageschulte

By Diane Lobaugh

What is climate?

Climate is the long-term pattern of weather. It can refer to a particular region or the whole planet.

Climate is studied by taking measurements of global temperatures, ocean temperatures, sizes of polar ice sheets and glaciers, snow cover, ocean pH levels, storm frequency and strength, sea levels, and levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The climate is changing regionally and globally. There are high levels of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere, causing the earth’s temperature to rise.

Dragonfly photo by Jared Solano
The oceans have absorbed too much carbon dioxide which has led to their acidification. As the ocean warms it expands, contributing to rising sea levels. 

The warming of the earth and ocean is causing polar ice sheets to melt, also raising the sea level. 

Shrinking glaciers threaten the water supply for many lives. There are changes in storm frequency and strength. 

Weather patterns in many regions are becoming less predictable, making growing crops difficult due to temperature and rainfall changes.

All life on the planet is being affected, all over the world. This is all happening very quickly, faster than most people predicted. This is a climate emergency.

Climate change is very hard for many of us to think about, the complexity of the science as well as the heartbreak in seeing what is happening to people, our earth, and the life on this earth. It is hard but important to face that the current crisis is human caused, beginning with the Industrial Revolution, and accelerating rapidly with the continued burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) and deforestation.

Pond in apple orchard. Photo by Phyllis Johnson
Some of us can still somewhat ignore climate change.
Yet the fossil fuels we burn in the globally dominant and more industrialized nations, which is 92% of global emissions, is affecting climate change throughout the planet. 

Countries that have done the least to create the climate crisis are suffering the most damage, such as drought, food insecurity, flooding and lack of safety. 

Many people have a daily struggle just to survive. There are communities in the more industrialized nations that are suffering this damage as well.

In the Shoreline area burning fossil fuels to drive our cars and trucks, and to heat our homes and buildings, is causing the most emissions. 

Snail photo by Lee Lageschulte
Decreasing our personal use of fossil fuels and making a shift to electricity and renewable energy must happen as soon as possible. Not all of us can afford to do this, but many of us can. Governments, institutions, and industries must also make major policy changes in this area, as some are.

We live in a culture of consumerism. My neighborhood has a constant stream of delivery trucks. So many of us are constantly ordering and upgrading, shopping, traveling, looking for great deals… there really is no end to it. And always it feels like I need more. 

There is pollution at every level of production, packaging, shipping, delivery and then the waste. Overconsumption at this pace has contributed to the climate crisis world-wide and is unsustainable.

What if we each decided to make major changes in how we consume, including radically decreasing our own use of fossil fuels, for the next 3-5 years? What if this effort, together with many others, helped to slow climate change?

Photo by Diane Lobaugh
Let’s shift from a culture of consumption to one of connection--to the earth, all life, and every human, next door and across the world.

We have a big project ahead of us. Here we go.

Hope to see you in the neighborhood. Diane Lobaugh

Past Shoreline Area News articles based on the pamphlet from Climate Action Shoreline: Start Over Every Sunday, Fossil Fuel Free Friday, and Supportive Saturday.


Lee Keim,  August 18, 2022 at 11:58 AM  

Thank you, Diane, for this clear, straightforward explanation of the crisis that all inhabitants of planet earth face. All of us can choose to become informed and evaluate the changes we must make in our personal lives to preserve a healthy future for all.

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