Simply put, the climate is the weather around you, on average over many years. A change to those conditions constitute climate change.
Human activities, particularly those prevalent over the past 150 years, such as the burning of fossil fuels, have led to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions, subsequently increasing temperatures globally. The effects of this can be seen in extreme weather and the melting of polar ice. This melting can lead to low-lying coastal areas flooding from rising sea levels, rendering them uninhabitable.
This year we have also witnessed an abnormally large number of wildfires due to extreme heat (and draught). Not just in isolated areas, but across continents, from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.
The effect of climate change on the way we live our lives could be very stark indeed. Water shortages and food production will come into sharp focus, and it’s quite possible that access to these will undoubtedly cause friction between neighbouring states.
Extreme weather events will also increase and force us to adapt. Heatwaves and storms will be more commonplace, threatening lives.
Inevitably it will be the poorer nations that will struggle to adapt and they will suffer most. A cruel irony given their historic record of being the least polluting.
Many species have already become extinct over the past hundred years due to changes in their habitat brought on by climate change. That looks set to continue given the rate of change – ice caps melting rapidly will lead to the possible extinction of polar bears; coral reefs such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia are disappearing fast as the oceans absorb carbon dioxide and consequently more acidic.