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What is Global Warming?

Global warming is the change in Earth’s climate that is happening right now. Unlike weather, climate describes long-term patterns in the conditions of the atmosphere. Earth’s climate has changed several times throughout history. But scientists say that the recent changes in Earth’s climate are due to human activity, not natural causes.

Over the past 150 years, humans have been burning more fossil fuels, like coal and oil, to power engines, vehicles, and other machines. Fossil fuels emit gases, like carbon dioxide and methane. Normally, trees and the ocean are able to absorb carbon dioxide and release it into the atmosphere as oxygen. But an increase in fossil fuels emissions has created more carbon dioxide than nature can absorb. Furthermore, human activities like deforestation and destruction of habitats have decreased the number of plants that can absorb the carbon dioxide. This combination results in an abundance of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which can cause a lot of problems. While sunlight can pass through carbon dioxide, the heat generated by the sun can not escape back into space. In essence, carbon dioxide traps the heat in Earth’s atmosphere, turning the planet into a giant greenhouse. This phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect.

More than just a slight change in temperatures, global warming leads to rising sea levels, flooding, severe droughts, stronger hurricanes, more dangerous blizzards, wildfires, food shortages, and water insecurity. Some areas will become uninhabitable for people and animals. Extreme weather events will put people and cities in danger.

Despite how scary this may seem, many governments and companies are working to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Inventors are working to create more environmentally friendly products and people are changing to green energy, like wind and solar power. People are coming up with innovative solutions like storing carbon dioxide underground before it goes into the atmosphere or planting more trees.


Citation: What is Global Warming? (2018). Timeforkids.com; Time For Kids. https://www.timeforkids.com/g34/global-warming/


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