Many confuse the two words climate and weather. Weather is the day to day conditions of our atmosphere. Whereas, climate refers to the average of the weather over time. Weather depicts how we dress day to day and can change often. Climate refers more to the average weather over time. We generally must prepare for our climate by buying appropriate clothing and preparing our home for longer term weather conditions.


What causes the climate to change?


There are three important greenhouse gases that have dramatically increased since industrialization: carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. The increases are primarily due to our changes in land use over time. These factors make it our earth’s surface temperature warmer which affects our loss of sea ice, longer fire seasons and can contribute to extreme weather events.


The question is what can I do in my own world and community to help on an individual basis?


There are several ways that we can reduce our energy use of electricity at home which will help us to contribute to the bigger picture. Some simple suggestions are when you are not using the television, computer, lights, heating and cooling, try to turn them off or down for a while. Purchasing shades or curtains for your windows can keep your house cooler in the summer and fans may be able to replace the air conditioner on some occasions. When running the air, heat or hot water heater check your thermostat for energy saving features. Try to only run the dishwasher or washing machine with full loads and be sure to clean out your lint trap in the dryers so it has good airflow. You will find you might even save a few dollars by being mindful of your energy consumption.


Next, I would like to talk about reducing greenhouse gases in our yards. Composting food scraps is a great way to reduce waste from landfills and turns your waste into reusable soil. Planting trees and plants help to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Plants store carbon and help to regulate temperatures in the home. Another thing to consider is where does your water run off go? If water can be routed to your garden it is a win-win.


How do we plan our food system in our home? Reducing food waste has many benefits. We can save money, help our community, conserve energy and resources just by rethinking the way we plan our meals. If we buy more unprocessed foods, there will be less packaging. If we are able to grow our own food or just eat at home more, it cuts down on trips to restaurants and stores.


These are just a few ways to get you thinking about climate change in Florida. As a citizen, we can take action by staying informed and showing our support. If we hold ourselves accountable by looking at our personal impact, we may be surprised what we are leaving behind with our footprint. For more information on healthy living or other extension related topics, contact your local UF IFAS county extension office, 850-639-3200 or jmcmillian@ufl.edu.


Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS Extension EDIS publications:


https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw331


https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw363


https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1048