If, like me, you have switched off in the past when people talk about climate change, we'll start with the basics. Climate change is the umbrella term for the full range of changes that are happening to our as a part of the long-term warming of Earth. So far, all pretty simple, right?
What's that got to do us? Well, since the 1970s there has been a well-documented rise in the global temperature. Climate change theory, and the scientists who back it, attribute this rise in temperature to humans and how we treat the planet.
Although there are some very vocal people who deny climate change is a problem, or that it's even happening, according to NASA a whopping 97 percent of scientists agree that humans are causing climate change. That seems conclusive to me.
Why is this a problem? Well, droughts, heatwaves, floods, and stronger hurricanes are just some of the long-term effects. Are we all going to drown in a couple of years' time as the sea covers the land? No, probably not. But do we need to be doing more? Yes, we do.
When people talk to me about climate change, sometimes it all seems so abstract and hard to equate with my life. However, images like these from NASA really underline how much we are changing our planet. The images show how lakes, icy landscapes and deserts have dramatically changed as the climate gets warmer and drier over time. What is perhaps the most shocking thing about these images is the short time span. You may think this is a slow process we'll never see within our lifetime, but, some of the pictures were taken as little as five years apart.
Lake Mead, which is reliant on snowfall from The Rocky Mountains, has had a severe drop in its water levels due to drought. The lake provides water for 20 million people in southern Nevada, Arizona and southern California, however, since 2000 it has lost four trillion gallons of water. Any further dropping would have a serious effect on Las Vegas, which gets 90 percent of its water from the lake.
July 2000. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens
July 2015. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens
Glaciers are often used as a measure of climate change, because they are particularly sensitive to changes to temperature. These images show Yosemite National Park's Lyell Glacier from 1883 and then again from last year. Huge portions of the glaciers no longer exist and the whole landscape looks bleak compared to 100 years ago.
1883. Credit: USGS/Israel Russell
2015. Credit: NPS/Keenan Takahashi
The Aral Sea, which isn't actually a sea but was once the fourth largest lake in the world, has also really taken a hit. Alongside warmer conditions, humans living nearby have upped their irrigation usage and left the eastern basin completely dry last year for the first time in 600 years. Life within the lake was also wiped out, with the National Geographic estimating that millions of fish died.
August 2000. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
August 2015. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
In California's Sierra Neveda snowpack - layers of snow that are essential for local water supply - are the lowest they've ever been. The California reservoirs, which rely on the annual snow melting to keep water levels topped up, were so short that the governor of California had to put water restrictions in place for the first time in the state's history. The state gets around 75 to 80 percent of its usable water from the snow melting, so this is a serious issue for the people of California.
March 2010. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen
March 2015. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen
In Greenland the Zachariæ Isstrøm glacier is melting at such a quick rate that it could result in the rising of sea levels for future decades. In 2012 a NASA report found that the glacier had entered a 'phase of accelerated retreat'. The warmer temperatures are causing it to detach from the coastline. Alarmingly, according to the report, this one glacier holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by over 18 inches.
August 1999. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen
August 2015. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen
These images of Arizona's Lake Powell are taken 16 years apart and it's clear to see the difference in the water levels. Lake Powell was one of the largest reservoirs in the US until 1990, when it started to recede. The severely reduced levels of water will, once again, have a massive impact on local people who rely on this water. The droughts have been attributed to the decreased snowfall on the Rocky Mountains, which is what helps to keep these water levels topped up.
March 1999. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
April 2015. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
The point of all this isn't to scaremonger. These images help to show the real-life effect that climate change is having on the planet, often in our life time, and can possibly help us all to realise that the way we currently live isn't sustainable.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images
This week we are taking a look at the causes and effects on our planet with our Climate Change editorial initiative. Read more here:
We're also partnering with National Geographic to live stream Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens' environmental film, Before The Flood, on TheLADbible's Facebook channel and LADbible.com on Sunday 30th October at 9pm GMT. Check out more information.
Climate Change is a crisis for this generation and generations to come. We want to know where you stand on the issue. What can you do? How can we all stop destroying the world? Filling in this poll will help us try to make a difference.