Exploring park visitor's perceptions of climate change a study in Columbia nature areas, Missouri
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Climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for a period of time, such as significant changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, that occur over several decades or longer (EPA, 2014a). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that climate change is a global issue (IPCC, 2007a). There has been an increase in the global average surface temperature with a linear warming trend for the past 50 years (IPCC, 2007b). According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) records (2015), the last 14 years have been recorded as the warmest and increase in global mean sea level within the 20th century, estimated to rise 17cm. In addition, there have been predictions of additional increases in the average temperature, changes in precipitation, and variations of wind patterns in the next century, which will lead to an increase in the intensity of extreme weather events, frequency of heat waves and heavy precipitation events (IPCC, 2007a). Broadly, climate change is attributed to human and natural causes, yet humans are largely responsible for recent climate change (EPA, 2014b). Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels, deforestation, industrial processes, as well as some agricultural practices (EPA, 2014a). Because of this, there is now a consensus that changes in climate across our planet is largely as a result of human activities (Stocker et al., 2013).
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