With all the very intense and serious weather lately, it has gotten us thinking about our planet Earth. From flooding to tornadoes, droughts, extreme heat waves, and blizzards – nothing seems to be "normal" anymore.
Global warming happens when greenhouse gasses (like carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels) trap heat in the earth's atmosphere. A warmer planet is causing our climate to change. Warmth obviously causes ice to melt, but a warmer planet can also hold more moisture in the air. This moisture then comes back down to earth in the form of massive rainstorms and snowstorms. But in some places, the water evaporates into the air and then the wind takes it far away, leaving a desert with no water!
Burning fossil fuels creates something called the greenhouse effect. Heat and light from the sun get through Earth's atmosphere, but can't get out. As a result, the planet heats up. This is like when heat is trapped in a car. On a very hot day, the car gets hotter sitting in a parking lot. This is because heat and light can get into the car through the windows, but it can't get out. This is what the greenhouse effect does to the earth.
Global warming is not just a matter of feeling warmer in our own towns. Across the world, people are feeling the results of climate change in the form of floods, tornadoes, heavy rain and snow, drought and heat waves.
- True or False? Global warming is due to only natural factors.
- Which country currently emits the most greenhouse gasses?
A. India B. China C. The U.K. D. The U.S.
- True or False? Global warming is sped up by the melting of the ice glaciers.
- As climate change continues, what type of coastal storm is predicted to intensify?
- What is something YOU can do to help in the fight against global warming?
A. Walk instead of asking your parents for a ride in the car.
B. Cut down a tree.
C. Always use lots of plastic water bottles.
- ANSWER: False. Some changes are due to natural causes, but scientists now believe that most of the planet's warming in the last few decades has been due to our emissions of greenhouse gasses (like carbon dioxide).
- ANSWER: B. China. It used to be the United States, but was surpassed by China in 2007. As a booming industrial country, China has produced massive carbon emissions in the past few years.
- ANSWER: True. Ice covered surfaces reflect more solar energy than other surfaces, and therefore have a cooling effect. As the glaciers melt, global warming will accelerate because more heat will be absorbed.
- ANSWER: Hurricanes. Warm water vapor from the ocean drives tropical storms. So as the water gets warmer, evaporation increases and provides more fuel for storms. In the past 40 years, sea temperatures have risen 1 degree.
- ANSWER: A. Walk instead of asking your parents for a ride in the car. This will reduce carbon emissions the car lets into the atmosphere.
What do you guys think? Drop a line in the comments below. It doesn't seem like a problem we will solve any time soon, so let's keep the dialogue going! Until next time.
Image credit Gerald Simmons