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Climate Crisis Impact

What is climate change? 

Climate change describes the long-term changes occurring in the climate due to increased amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses (GHGs), such as methane and nitrous oxide, cause the amplification of the Greenhouse Effect--a phenomenon in which gases extant in the Earth’s atmosphere absorb heat from the sun and warm the planet [1]. Currently, our planet has 414 ppm (parts per million) CO2 in its atmosphere, an amount which--in examining the past 650,000 years--has no precedence[1]. 
Some other noted effects of climate change include

  • Rising sea leaves
  • Increasing average annual temperatures
  • Melting glaciers and sea ice
  • Increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

What actions have led to climate change? 

Since the industrial revolution, human activity has contributed significantly to the release of GHGs into the atmosphere, the most noted activity being our reliance on the burning of fossil fuels [2]. Still more actions contribute to climate change including

  • Increased development
  • Land degradation
  • Deforestation
  • Cattle ranching and production 
  • Big agriculture 

How is Central America affected by climate change specifically? 

Three most noted impacts of climate change in Central America 

  • 1) Increased temperatures 
  • 2) Increase in the frequency and intensity of major weather events 
  • 3) Decreasing rates of precipitation 

The projected decrease in precipitation will have a significant impact on water availability, a resource that is already quite limited in many vulnerable communities[5,7]. Other consequences include…

  • Land-use change
  • Species extinction (especially of plant and amphibian species)
  • Conversion of natural ecosystems
  • Changes in predator-prey interactions
  • Changes in the structure of ecological networks [7]
  • Coral bleaching events
  • Coastal erosion
  • Reduction in fisheries stock [7].

Due to high ecosystemic diversity in Central America--as well as the region’s connection to both the Pacific and the Caribbean-- the region’s response to climate change will be distinctly and widely variable[8] 

Want to learn more about climate change? 

Check the IPCC’s (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) website at The IPCC is the foremost authority on climate change in the world. Also, make sure to look at NASA’s website about climate change at NASA’s website is a treasure trove of interactive information about the science behind climate change.