Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is climate change?

Climate change is generally any large-scale change in the Earth's climate, which primarily includes fluctuations in global temperatures and precipitation levels. Typically, scientists are referring to global warming when they talk about global climate change. Global warming generally refers to an overall increase in global temperatures due to an increase in the concentration of certain gases, called greenhouse gases, in the Earth's atmosphere. Although increases in the Earth's global temperature can be a natural, geological phenomenon, today the term global warming is used to describe the increase in global temperatures from primarily human causes.

2. What is sustainable development?

Sustainable development is economic development that does not deplete or destroy natural resources upon which a community may depend. The most common definition used is that from the United Nation's Brundtland Report from 1987. The report defined sustainable development as development that meets the needs of present generations without infringing on the ability of future generations to meet their needs. C. What is the greenhouse effect? Certain gases, known as greenhouse gases, in the Earth's atmosphere absorb heat being deflected from the Earth's surface. When the concentration of these gases increase, they can trap a large amount of heat in the Earth's atmosphere. This creates a greenhouse effect, and results in an overall warming of global temperatures.

3. What is ozone?

Ozone is a compound made up of three oxygen atoms. It is formed when three oxygen atoms interact with ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. The result is a thin layer of ozone in the Earth's atmosphere. This layer, known as the ozone layer, absorbs potentially damaging incoming ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, thereby preventing it from reaching the Earth.

4. What is ozone depletion?

Unfortunately, certain man-made compounds in the Earth's atmosphere destroy ozone, thus resulting in widespread ozone depletion. Ozone depletion causes the ozone layer to become even thinner, thereby letting increasing amounts of harmful ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth's surface. An increase in exposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause serious health impacts to humans, and affect animal life as well.

5. What are CFCs and HCFCs?

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Fluorohydrocarbons (CFHCs) are ozone-destroying compounds. CFCs and CFHCs were commonly used as coolants in refrigerators and air conditioners, and as propellants in aerosol spray products. In the presence of ultraviolet light, CFCs and CFHCs break down, releasing a chlorine atom. Chlorine atoms are highly reactive and cause ozone molecules to break apart very quickly. The reaction occurs repeatedly, destroying ozone faster than it can be created. CFCs and CFHCs can endure in the atmosphere for many years. As such, even though many products containing CFCs and CFHCs have been banned in the US, the effect of them will be felt for many years to come.

6. What is methyl bromide?

Another ozone-destroying compound is methyl bromide, a commonly used fumigant. Like chlorine, bromine, one of the elements of methyl bromide, speeds up ozone destruction. As such, it is considered an ozone-destroying substance.