The earth is always changing. Where oceans once flowed over the land long ago, prairies now grow. Where volcanoes rose up, snowy mountain peaks loom. Earth's climate has often changed too. Climate is the range of temperatures and other weather conditions that are most common in a place over many years. Minnesota's climate has four seasons—winter, spring, summer, and fall—each with a normal range of temperatures.
Usually the Earth's enormous changes have occurred slowly over many hundreds, thousands, or millions of years, allowing plenty of time for most living things to adapt, or get used to, new conditions.
Now the Earth is experiencing a global rise in temperatures. This climate change, sometimes called global warming, is happening much faster than previous changes did. And unlike those earlier changes, which were natural, the rising temperatures are being caused mostly by the actions of people.
On the following pages, you'll learn more about what causes climate change, what it means for our wild places and creatures, and what we can all do to help our land, lakes, rivers, and wildlife thrive.