Photograph © Ros Smith

Climate change

What is Climate Change?

‘Climate change’ describes how our planet’s average temperature, rainfall, wind and other weather conditions have changed over a long period of time.

Climate change can be caused by natural events such as a volcanic eruption or human activity such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation.

The Earth’s climate has changed many times over thousands of years. However, over the last 50 years we – humans – have caused the planet to warm much more quickly by our everyday activities releasing too much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

How is our climate changing?

The Earth is getting warmer – both on land and in the oceans. Between the years 1880 and 2012 the average world temperature rose by 0.85°C. This might not sound a lot but even a small increase in temperature can have a huge impact on the planet and upset the delicate balance of our climate system.

We are seeing changes to how heat is moved around the world by the oceans and air and rising sea levels.

If we continue to add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere at this rate, it is thought that temperatures will continue to increase by between 1.4 and 5.8°C during this century!

How is climate change affecting the animals of the Arctic?

How is climate change affecting the people of the Arctic?

Is climate change really happening?

Many scientists and governments believe that climate change is real. But not everyone agrees.

Some of the arguments against climate change are:

  • The rise in the earth’s temperature is temporary – it has always gone up and down.
  • Ice and snow melt, rising sea levels and more severe weather such as tornadoes and hurricanes have got worse then better. There is no set trend.
  • Climate change has always happened – including long before humans made greenhouse gases.
Make your mind up about Climate Change

What do you think?

Do you think climate change is really happening?

Why not look around this website and in other places and decide for yourself?

Tricky words?

Go to our Jargon Buster page to understand some of the trickier words used in this website.

NASA continue to monitor global climate change.

Global temperatures are continuing to climb: 2017 was the second hottest year since 1880, when global estimates first became feasible. Seventeen of the 18 warmest years in the modern record have now occurred since 2001, including 2016, which remains the warmest year since 1880.

NASA scientists have tracked a decades-long pattern of Earth’s warming as part of the agency’s work to better understand our home planet. The increasing temperature is primarily caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where they trap heat. For three years in a row now, temperatures have averaged 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels.

The impacts of this long-term warming trend include a dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice in the past 20 years and rising sea levels as oceans warm and glaciers and ice sheets melt.

Here’s a video that explains everything a bit more!

Do you know the difference between ‘climate’ and ‘weather’ or between ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’?

Write down your answer, then click on our friendly seal pup to to check you’re right in the Jargon Buster!Seal

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