Global warming article for Kids

The Kids Guide To Global Warming
September 29, 2015 – 01:54 pm

The Greenhouse EffectPeople are seeing change all over the world. Arctic sea ice is melting earlier and forming later. Glaciers are disappearing. Heat waves, storms and floods are becoming more extreme. Insects are emerging sooner and flowers are blooming earlier. In some places, birds are laying eggs before they’re expected and bears have stopped hibernating.

So what’s going on? Our planet is getting warmer, and even a small increase in temperature can change our climate. And when our climate changes, we’re all affected.

A Natural Greenhouse

Earth is the only planet we know of that can support life. The reason Earth is different than the rest relies on a number of factors. We get just the right amount of energy from the sun (if we were any closer, we would burn up; if we were any further, we’d freeze). Our atmosphere is a layer of gases surrounding the Earth that absorbs ultra violet radiation and prevents temperatures from rising too high or getting too cold. The greenhouse effect is the process that causes the surface of the Earth to be warmer than it would be if we had no atmosphere. Without these three factors, most like on Earth couldn’t exist.

The Greenhouse Effect

Natural Cycles

Several natural cycles of the Earth keep it and its atmosphere in perfect balance. Carbon is essential to life and the carbon cycle keeps it moving throughout all Earth’s systems. Water is one of the most important things to our survival, and the water cycle keeps it moving around and around our Earth and atmosphere – even through our bodies.

Weather Versus Climate

Weather is what’s happening with the atmosphere that surrounds us. It’s not the same as climate, which refers to the pattern of weather we expect to see in a particular place. The weather is always driven by the sun’s energy, whether it’s warm outside or snowing due to the circulation of warm air to cold places and cold air to warm places by the atmosphere. This, combined with the movement of the oceans and the amount of moisture in the air creates everything from perfect sunny days to terror-filled tornadoes.

Even though the weather changes frequently, the climate of a particular place should always be about the same. In Alaska, for example, there shouldn’t be any tropical-like weather. In California, it shouldn’t snow too much in the winter.

The fact is, while the Earth’s climate has changed many times over millions of years (ice ages, for example, happen naturally every 100, 000 years or so), it really shouldn’t be changing much during any one person’s lifetime. We’re still recovering from the last ice age, which is said to have wiped out the dinosaurs. While temperatures do rise gradually over time after an ice age, today our planet’s surface temperatures seem to be rising faster now than they were 100 years ago. And this is what has many people worried.

Balancing Act

Our planet is always changing and its systems are constantly working together to keep a kind of balance. All forms of life, including humans, depend on this balance for their existence.

All living things are connected to each other in ecosystems by food chains and food webs. Plants get energy from the sun. Herbivores (species that don’t eat meat) get energy by eating plants. Carnivores (that eat meat) get energy by eating herbivores. This is how energy flows through all ecosystems – starting from the sun.

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