Region 5 Climate Change
What is Climate Change?
Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are often called greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), are a natural part of our atmosphere and prevent heat from escaping to space. However, human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation have increased greenhouse gases emissions at an unprecedented rate.
As the concentrations of these gases rise in the atmosphere, the Earth's temperature is climbing above past levels. Scientists are certain that human activities are changing the composition of the atmosphere, and that increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases will change the planet's climate.
For more information on climate change science and our national efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions, visit EPA's national climate change web page and EPA's national climate change basic information webpage.
Regional Climate Change Impacts
Region 5 is home to over 50 million people and contains abundant ecological, agricultural, recreational and industrial resources. Our region includes the Great Lakes, the largest surface freshwater system on the Earth. These resources, which are essential to the Region’s health and economy, may be impacted by climate change.
Expected climate change impacts in our region include:
- More extreme heat, with resulting increases in heat-related illness and death, especially in urban areas;
- More extreme precipitation, including downpours and flooding at some times and droughts at others, leading to effects on water quality and availability and agricultural productivity;
- Lower levels in rivers and the Great Lakes, due to warmer temperatures and increased evaporation, which will impact recreation and shipping.
Region 5 Climate Change Action Plan
In the United States, energy-related activities account for three-quarters of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels. Addressing how we produce and use energy is a key part of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. We also need to improve our management of water and materials and reduce waste in order to address climate change.
Region 5 recognizes the need to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our region. In 2008, Region 5 released the Framework for Addressing Climate Change and Clean Energy. The framework’s priority activities fall under four categories:
- Changing How Our Energy is Produced
- Changing How Our Energy is Used
- Changing How Materials, Products, and Waste are Managed
- Integrating Climate Change Considerations into Agency Operations and Core Programs
Governments, businesses, organizations, and individuals can all take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. See what you can do to be part of the solution and take action today.
Climate Change Art Challenge Poster: A Resource for Educators
You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.
- Effects of Climate Change: Climate Change Around the World (PDF) (1 pg, 86K) 2010
- What We Can Do: Actions We Can Take Against Climate Change (PDF) (1 pg, 72K) 2010
- Disappearing Snow: A Lesson Plan on the Albedo Effect (PDF) (2 pp, 263K) 2010
- Make Earth Sweat: A Lesson Plan for Understanding Carbon Dioxide (PDF) (2 pp, 413K) 2010
- Climate Change Vocabulary List (PDF) (1 pg, 66K) 2010
- Climate Change Education Resource List (PDF) (1 pg, 176K) 2010