Climate Change, Global Warming, Greenhouse Gases, Carbon Trading, Peak Oil, Energy Scarcity, etc. What does it all mean? What is really going on?
Climate change is a real function of living on this planet. There are built in cycles of change, feedback loops that can be triggered by yet to be understood causes, and then there are changes that come as a result of the activities of the living organisms that reside on Earth.
There are other problems within the class of things that can be called climate change. Many of these issues have what appears to be a regional or local scope, but can and will turn out to be bigger than that in time.
Environmental damage due to deforestation, fresh water diversion, agriculture, hunting/fishing, industry and population growth necessitated development all impact the people that depend on the land and resources where they occur. These problems are not new, and their history from all around our planet can teach us a lot about how we can think and act. Billions of our fellow earthlings will continue to be impacted by these problems for generations.
The public face of climate change, in America to be sure, equates it with global warming. A strict reading of the news would make you think that a magical ceasing in carbon dioxide emissions would take climate change out of the headlines. This is completely false and a very damaging idea.
The carbon cycle of our planet is long and slow such that the emissions of gasses like CO2. methane, and others will be felt for decades to come. The change processes are underway and stopping them abruptly is not possible. Our actions, and we need to act, to reduce emissions will work to reduce the magnitude and duration of these effects, but will not stop them.
As I pointed out above there are other problems that are not solely related to global warming and will not be solved by changing CO2 emissions. The public debate is not complex enough to include this, but without tackling these issues as well we aren't going to be entirely better off.
The first step is to look around your own community, think about changes you have personally witnessed and dig deeper to find out what is really going on. Only then will we all be able to agree on the issues and how we can work together to solve them.