For a long time, scientists used the words global warming to describe the changes taking place in the world. Over the last 200 years, the earth’s temperature has gradually increased, due mostly to the burning of fossil fuels.
Now we use the term climate change because temperature increase isn’t the only thing happening. Climate change refers to all the changes occurring on the planet today.
- The earth’s surface temperature has steadily increased over the last 200 years at a faster rate than at any other time in history.
- This means more droughts, forest fires, and high temperatures. Many areas get a lot less snow or rain than they used to, which means people don’t have enough water for drinking or for irrigating crops.
- But hotter weather isn’t the only change. The weather has become more unpredictable and intense. In many parts of the world, hurricanes, tornadoes, and very severe weather are becoming more common.
- In some parts of the world, frequent floods are destroying land and driving people from their homes. In other places, wildfires have caused upheaval. The 2019 fires in Australia are one example.
- Scientists and environmental activists have been sounding the alarm for many years; now, more and more people understand that climate change is a serious problem.
- Solutions are not easy and will require sacrifice. We have to reduce our consumption of products and find clean, renewable sources of energy.
- Consumption: buying and using products
- Renewable: does not run out
- Activist: someone who actively works for a cause
Questions and Answers:
Question: What are fossil fuels and why are they damaging?
Answer: Fossil fuels are things like coal and oil. Getting them out of the earth requires a lot of equipment and energy. Sometimes oil riggers spill oil, damaging oceans and marine life.
Mining for coal creates huge, ugly holes in the earth’s surface. We’re not sure exactly how much oil and coal is left in the earth, but we know that it will eventually run out. That’s why these fuels are called non-renewable.
When we burn fossil fuels (in cars, in factories, to heat our homes, or to make electricity), we put carbon into the air. Carbon pollutes the air and also contributes to global warming.
Visit NASA to learn more about fossil fuels: