Why climate change is important to me, what it is, the causes and what kids can do.

The most common question I get asked is ‘why am I so interested in climate change and the environment?’ The answer is that once I learnt that my generation will be the first generation to see and inherit serious issues that come with climate change I wanted to know more. I learnt that the main causes of climate change are made by human actions. So if we are causing climate change then we must surely be able to slow it down and stop it.

Climate change is caused by green house gases in our earth’s atmosphere. The gases absorb the heat leaving the earth and then returning it. This makes our earth warmer all over. Some activities that produce green house gases are burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, using electricity made by burning fossil fuels, clearing of land and some industrial processes such as making aluminium and cement.

Some of the effects of climate change are rising temperatures, rising sea levels as ice sheets and glaciers melt, weather pattern changes such as droughts, heat waves, severe storms, floods, higher chances of bushfires and changes in rainfall patterns. Permanent damage to important and vulnerable ecosystems such as coral reefs, alpine areas and rainforests. As climate patterns change this will have negative impacts on plants, animals and human health.

Here in Australia we will experience hotter and drier conditions, lots more bushfires, loss of snow cover by 2050, water shortages, bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and loss of many plant and animal species.

Climate Change is a huge problem and one that world leaders need to address urgently to ensure that future generations inherit a healthy and sustainable planet. While world leaders are developing policies and hopefully come to a positive agreement in Copenhagen in December, we can all develop good habits that may be small but together have a big impact on our own local environments. Here are my top ten tips for kids:

- Turn off any lights or appliances in your house you don’t need on
- Have shorter showers or have baths
- Don’t hold the fridge door open for long periods of time
- Ride, walk or catch the bus to school and car pool
- Get your school involved in environmental projects
- Recycle as much as you can, clothes, toys, books
- Set up a worn farm at home and at school
- Adopt an endangered animal
- Consume less, only buy what you really need
- The best thing you can do is plant a tree, trees take the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, so the more trees the planet has the better!

Climate Change is a serious issue but we need to stay positive and remember that we can all make a difference.