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Wilfrid Laurier University Physical Resources
December 5, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Climate Change

What is Climate Change?

Since the beginning of the 20th Century, the trend in global average temperature has been increasing. This phenomenon, originally termed Global Warming, was re-termed Climate Change to better explain the impacts of a rising global temperature. Despite scientific debate regarding the impacts and severity of Climate Change, there is consensus that humans are having a significant impact on climate change.

Global climate change is caused by the greenhouse effect. This is the buildup of atmospheric gases (referred to as ‘greenhouse gases’) that absorb large amounts of the sun’s solar radiation, thus preventing significant amounts of heat energy from naturally escaping the earth’s atmosphere. These greenhouse gases are primarily carbon dioxide and methane, which are pollutants that result mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. The global rate of carbon emissions has dramatically increased since the beginning of the industrial revolution, and has lead to a critical environmental crisis. This image, developed by the Government of Canada, explains the greenhouse effect:


The global climate has already increased 0.8°C during the last Century, and conservative estimates predict that it will rise by another 1.5°C to 4°C by the year 2100. Environmentalists and scientists alike are claiming that once the global average temperature rises beyond 2°C, the impacts of climate change will be irreversible. 2°C may seem small but it is significant. Consider that temperatures are currently approximately only 5°C more than they were during the last ice age. This graph created based on information collected by NASA, demonstrates the exponential rate of global temperature increases over time:


Climate change is one of the biggest, and most serious current issues facing our time.  The potential environmental ramifications of such a global change are wide-ranging. The specific details of the effects of global climate change are difficult to forecast, but the results are likely to include dramatic changes in weather patterns, increased occurrences and severity of natural disasters, continued glacial melting, coastal flooding, droughts, species extinctions and declines in earth’s biodiversity, many threats to agricultural practices and human health, as well as a whole range of other possibilities.

At Laurier

The Sustainability Office is making improvements to construction, transportation, food, water use, procurement, energy consumption, waste diversion, and ecological conservation. These efforts will improve operational efficiency, will help to reduce costs, and will significantly reduce Laurier’s impact on climate change and the environment.

To learn more about Climate Change, visit: