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Earth Day: What is climate change?


“Climate Change” and “Global Warming” are common hot topic terms that get politicized … a lot. Generally, both terms are defined as; the statistically significant changes in atmospheric conditions that result from human activities. “Climate” describes what the weather is like over a long period of time in a specific area. Scientists define an area’s climate using the averages of precipitation, temperature, humidity, and sunshine, over a period of time, typically 30 years.

I am not here to debate how climate change happens or pretend to know all that causes it. I am here to tell you that the climate in our area and other parts of the world has changed. From 1895-2015 the average annual temperature in Indiana has gone up 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit. In the same time frame, Indiana’s annual total precipitation has gone up 6.5 inches of rain to around 43 inches per year.

I think it is common that when we think about climate change, we don’t think it is happening where we live. I don’t care what you believe how, when, or who started the increase in global temperatures. I care that we recognize it. My mom was born in 1960, she often would tell us we do not have the same winters that she had in her childhood. Our local farmers and growers have no doubt noticed a change in our weather patterns from their childhoods compared to now.

Climate change is an equitable beast, it will not only affect the farmers, ranchers, and growers. It will attack the lives of everyone and our lack thereof of snow days. Our summers are getting warmer, with more serious weather events. With warmer weather, we will use our air conditioning more, which can be costly to your wallet. More AC means more electric energy use, which can lead to energy shortages and more carbon emissions. Energy companies increase their prices, which makes the elderly, and impoverished more susceptible to higher temperatures and its health and financial effects.

With Earth Day coming up, how do we address these climate changes at home? May I suggest some basic adjustments to make the warmer climate more tolerable to our comfort and wallets?

Shade your AC unit. Plant a tree near by the AC unit to provide some shade can reduce energy use of the unit.

Increase the energy efficiency of your home. Does your attic need new insulation? Leaky windows? Increasing the energy efficiency of your home can reduce your energy use and comfort.

Proper Car Maintenance — Get the oil change and check your tires! Proper engine care and tire inflation can increase your fuel efficiency.

Turn off the car! — Stop idling your engine in parking lots — The music, podcasts, and phone calls can be done with the engine off — Park in a central location when shopping at multiple stores, to prevent starting the engine. Walk when you can!

Address the bare spots in your lawn, bare spots are susceptible to soil loss during large rain events. Soil erosion is a loss of often environmentally harming nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen.

Spend more time outside. Maybe even plant a tree or shrub while you’re out there. (Deciduous trees should be planted to the south of your home for summer shade and winter sun.)


Tricia Herr is the Montgomery County Extension Educator, Ag and Natural Resource. The office is at 400 Parke Ave., Crawfordsville; 765-364-6363. She may be reached by email at triciaherr@purdue.edu.