Have you ever visited a greenhouse where plants are grown? Great panels of glass trap heat from the sun and moisture to create a warm, cozy place for plants to grow. Greenhouse owners must run fans and open vents to keep the greenhouses from getting too warm on hot days. If the greenhouse gets too warm, the plants might die.
The Earth is a bit like a giant greenhouse. Carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor in the atmosphere create a blanket around the atmosphere that traps warmth from the Sun. But what happens if those gases work too well? Since 1900, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have increased by 30 percent. This increase has been caused by burning fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal. These fuels contain carbon and when they’re burned, the carbon is released into the air as carbon dioxide.
Depending on where you live, the weather is probably a little different every day. In the summer, one week might be really hot and another week might be cooler and rainy. In the winter, one week might be cold and dry. Next week, though, a big snowstorm might arrive.
Climate change is different than daily weather changes. Climate change happens slowly over thousands and millions of years. The tilt of the Earth’s axis can affect climate.
So can natural phenomenon like volcanic eruptions. When a volcano erupts, the ashes from the explosion can block out the Sun’s rays, causing cooler weather for many years.
In recent years, human choices have altered the climate. When we cut down trees or use gasoline and other fossil fuels, we release carbon dioxide and other gases. These gases hold in heat. The climate is becoming warmer because of these gases.
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