Credit Img iaas.org.sg
What is climate change?
Think about how the weather changes day by day. Sometimes it’s rainy, other times it’s really hot. Climate, though, is the long-term pattern of weather in a big area. And guess what? Our planet’s climate is influenced by Earth’s atmosphere.
The air around Earth is made up of gases. When sunlight enters this atmosphere, some of the heat from the sun gets trapped by these gases, while some goes back out into space. This trapped heat keeps our planet warm enough for us to live on. Without it, Earth would be freezing, like Mars.
Earth’s climate has always naturally gone through changes because of how much of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the atmosphere. Over hundreds of thousands of years, our planet has seen times of ice ages and warm periods.
What’s different now?
In the last few hundred years, we’ve been using oil, gas, and coal to power things like homes, cars, and factories. These energy sources release a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. This gas traps heat that would otherwise escape from Earth’s atmosphere. This extra heat makes the Earth warmer, which is contributing to global warming.
That’s why many scientists agree that humans are causing the Earth to warm up. How do they know? Through careful research, they’ve found that the climate is changing about 10 times faster than it used to. And they’ve checked and ruled out the natural causes that made the climate change in the past.
Over the past hundred years, Earth’s average temperature has gone up by about 1.5°F. That might not sound like a lot, but this increase has led to melting glaciers, droughts, and even the dying off of coral reefs (because coral can’t survive in water that’s too warm). They think the temperature could go up another 0.5°F to 8.6°F by the year 2100.
What could happen?
Climate change is about more than just temperature. Warmer water changes how the ocean currents move, which affects the weather patterns around the world.
Some places might get more rain, causing floods. Others might get less rain, leading to droughts. Powerful tropical storms could become even stronger. Plus, as ice at the North and South Poles melts, sea levels rise, and this could force people to leave their homes.
Lots of plants and animals have already felt the effects of climate change. Take the American pika, for instance. It’s a small animal that lives in cool mountain areas in North America. But as those areas get warmer, the pika has to move higher up the mountains to find cooler spots. But what if there’s nowhere left to go?
While some creatures might thrive in a warmer world, this might not be good for humans. Warm and wet conditions are perfect for disease-carrying mosquitoes. This means more people could get sick from diseases like malaria as the Earth gets warmer.
What can we do?
The good news is, we can make a difference! Making small changes in our daily lives can help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the air.
Remember, the things we do every day affect not just us, but also plants, animals, and the whole planet. Even creatures like polar bears are impacted by our actions. So let’s work together to keep Earth healthy and cool!