(Credit: Prostock-studio, Shutterstock / Prostock-studio)

The devastating effects of global warming, a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth's atmosphere, and climate change, a change in global climate patterns, are already hurting people and animals around the world. And incidents of droughts, wildfires, insect outbreaks, famine, flooding, and stronger, more intense hurricanes are only expected to increase if climate change continues at its current rate.

While certain contributing factors, such as changes in the sun's intensity, orbital variations, and volcanic eruptions, are out of our control, many are within our power. We can bike to work instead of driving, switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, purchase energy-efficient appliances, take shorter showers, eat meat-free meals, plant trees, and recycle and reuse plastic bottles.

If you want to help save the environment but don't know where to begin, these apps can show you where you're going wrong and the simple steps you can take to help combat climate change.

SEE: The best mobile apps for news, politics, and investigative journalism

1. Images Of Change

NASA's Images of Change (iOS) app shows you how natural disasters, global warming, and our unwitting actions are impacting our planet with breathtaking image pairs from NASA's Global Climate Change website. The destruction that humanity's caused will come into focus with these jarring before-and-after photos that'll encourage users to go green.


2. WWF Together

The World Wildlife Fund's mission, for decades, has been to preserve wildlife from poaching, habitat loss, and overuse of natural resources. Did you know that experts believe that healthy animals and healthy habitats can actually help slow climate change, too? The WWF Together ( Android, iOS) app educates you about the endangered species the World Wildlife Fund's struggling to save with news, interactive stories, stunning photos and video, and more.


3. MathTappers: Carbon Choices

Want to become more aware of your carbon footprint? The MathTappers: Carbon Choices (iOS) app tasks you with tracking your showers, travel, entertainment, and eating habits, for example, and then tells you how much C02 equivalent pollution you're emitting.


4. JouleBug

The five-star JouleBug (Android, iOS) app helps you go green with easy-to-follow tips and impact stats. It also helps you gloat about it to your wasteful friends to encourage them to do better. You can even challenge your friends for the title of Greatest Climate Hero.


5. RecycleNation

If you're not already recycling or have questions about the process, then check out the RecycleNation (Android, iOS) app, which educates you on which items can be recycled; helps you find nearby recycling stations and share recycling tips with your crew over text, email, and social media; and, view and track how all the progress you're making helps the planet.


6. Dropcountr

Calculate your water usage with the Dropcountr (Android, iOS) app. Uncover how much water you're wasting and set and reach new water use goals. You'll also see how much money you're saving by conserving one of our most important natural resources.


7. WeTap Drinking Fountain Finder

You may have already heard about the dangers of plastic pollution. Plastic, which doesn't biodegrade, fills up landfills when not recycled, contaminates our groundwater with chemicals, and kills sea creatures that mistakenly eat or get entangled in it. One small thing you can do to minimize this danger is to purchase less plastic bottles.

So hang on to your existing ones and WeTap Drinking Fountain Finder (iOS), the crowdsourced drinking fountain locator, will help you locate free quality tap water near you to fill them up with the next time you're thirsty.


8. Buycott

Who knows which brands are the most eco-friendly? Buycott (Android, iOS) does. The app enables users to buy responsibly by scanning barcodes on the products you'd ordinarily buy and discover the toll they're taking on the environment. Then you can make a more fully formed decision on whether to purchase or not. If the product info doesn't match your new eco-friendly values, then you can communicate that to your social media following and even to the company itself through the app as well as find alternatives.


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Also see

Google Maps app launches new feature to help find EV charging stations
Ann Curry wants an app to stop climate change
Can Tinder's 'Swipe the Vote' get Millennials to the polls for 2018 midterms?
Humans responsible for heating the Earth, US report says (CNET)
Climate change is transforming business (ZDNet)
How the UN uses technology to stem the tide of climate change (TechRepublic)

Joshua is an editor for CNET's Download.com. He covers the mobile tech and apps that power our lives and interviews celebrities about their favorite apps. Previously, he worked as an editor at Healthline and Gay.com and as a contributing writer for Mac Directory, MacAddict, SF Weekly, SF Examiner, and SF Chronicle.