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Global warming

What is Global Warming?
Greenhouse gases
The effects of Global Warming
What People can do
What Governments are doing
Find out more

Global warming is one of the greatest threats to humanity that we have possibly ever faced.  The general scientific opinion  is that Global warming has already started and that it has the potential to affect agriculture, sea levels, coastal; erosion, out climate and weather, the ecosystems of our planet and rain fall levels.  Your first assessment in year 9 is on this topic and offers you a first insight into environmental geography - the geography of studying how human activities affect the environment, and what the consequences of that are for our species. You can download the assessment task sheet here.

What is global warming?

The Earth's atmosphere, a thin blanket of gases, protects the planet from the harshest of the sun's rays (watch an animation). The atmosphere, by trapping the Earth's warmth, keeps rivers and oceans from freezing. Carbon dioxide and water vapour are the most important gases in creating the insulating or "greenhouse effect" of the atmosphere.  The greenhouse effect is a natural occurrence that keeps Earth's average temperature at approximately 15C

Without the natural greenhouse effect temperatures on Earth would be much lower than they are now, and the existence of life on this planet would not be possible. The global average temperature would drop 33 C from its current 15 to -18C. The Earth would become an ice planet. However, too many greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere could increase the greenhouse effect. This could result in an increase in mean global temperatures as well as changes in rainfall patterns. Watch a movie on how global warming works.
How Global Warming works
 

Greenhouse Gases - Carbon Dioxide

A greenhouse gas is an atmospheric gas which warms the lower atmosphere by absorbing thermal radiation (heat energy).  Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is one of those gases. The amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere in the next 30 years is expected to double or triple. The number of cars in operation around the world will double by the year 2030. This can be seen below.  Methane is another greenhouse gas that scientists are worried about.
Record of temperature and Carbon Dioxide

The Impacts of Global warming

The rate of global warming and sea level rise will be higher than previous predictions during the next century. Estimated land losses range from 0.05% for Uruguay to about 80% for the Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands

A 1M (3 feet) sea-level rise would affect 6 million people in Egypt, with 12% to 15% of agricultural land lost, 13 million in Bangladesh, with 16% of national rice production lost, and 72 million in China and "tens of thousands" of hectares(1 hectare =2.47 acres) of agricultural land. This is based on new information released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Global warming is at the root of the increase, say the researchers, as the Earths climbing temperatures melt the Arctic sea ice and Antarctica

The Marshall Islands Ujelang Island, Marshall Islands

Changing ice sheets

Melting Ice sheets in Greenland Around the world, ice sheets and glaciers are melting at a fast rate. Melting ice in Antarctica and Greenland (caused by higher global temperature) could result in sea-level changes that would severely affect the densely populated coastal regions on Earth.  Glaciers along the south eastern coast of Greenland are thinning by more than 3 feet a year according to a study by NASA scientists

Global Impacts of the greenhouse effect

1. Water expands when it's heated and oceans absorb more heat than land, so sea levels would rise.
2. Places that usually get lots of rain and snowfall might get hotter and drier.
3. There would be more droughts making hard to grow crops.
4. Less water would be available for drinking, showers and swimming pools.
5. Some plants and animals might become extinct because of the heat.
6. Hurricanes, tornadoes and other storms which are caused by changes in heat and water evaporation may get more common

There are ways you can help cut greenhouse gases and help stop global warming.

 Re-cycle glass bottles, jars, newspapers and magazines and tin cans. Save them and take them to local re-cycling centres. Compost food waste.

  Try and buy products that don't use much packaging.

  Only fill the kettle up with the amount of water you need to boil that time.

  Ask whoever does your washing to use the machine at 40 degrees, this helps conserve power.

  Switch lights off when you're not in the room

  Cycle to places!

  Have showers instead of baths.

Use Renewable energy sources such as wind power

Find out more from Kids Boogaloo!

What's being done about it?
The United Nations has meetings where world leaders agree on what to do about global warming.  Every five years, the Earth Summit happens. In 1997, an agreement was made at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan, to cut the amount of gases that industries make. In February 2003, the British Government set out its plans to produce electricity using "greener" ways.

 Find out more

a) Read the CBBC guide to Global warming

b) Find out more about the impacts by clicking on this fantastic interactive map from National Geographic
Interactive map of Global Warming Impacts at National Geographic

c) Calculate your Carbon footprint by clicking on the calculator
Go to carbon footprint calculator

d) Some people and scientists do not believe in Global Warming. Research the following sites;

Which side of the argument do you believe? Say why in a couple of paragraphs.

e) Some global warming games

f) Play Planet Protectors and guard the world against Global Warming!

g) Play operation climate control for GCSE level, from DEFRA