We prepared a short, kid-friendly guide about one of the most pressing issues of our time. Understanding this will give you a better understanding of the climate crisis the world is currently experiencing. Here are four global warming facts for kids.
1. Global Warming is Accelerating And as ‘Little’ as 1.5C Can Make a Huge Difference
Global warming refers to the warming of our planet. According to scientists, the earth’s average surface temperature has increased by 1C (1.8F) in the last 150 years, with over half of the rise occurring since the mid-1970s.
Although it doesn’t sound like a lot, this seemingly small increase in the average global temperature has a huge impact on weather patterns and wildlife around the world!
2. Global Warming is A Huge Problem for Our Planet, Threatening Biodiversity, Weather Patterns, and Human Health
Rising temperatures mean that our polar ice caps melt more quickly than before. We are currently losing about 1.2 trillion tons of ice every year! As the ice caps melt into the ocean, the sea level rises. This could cause many low-lying cities to disappear over the next few decades, with some small islands, such as Fiji in the Pacific and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, at risk of disappearing by the end of the current century.
Global warming also causes more extreme weather events. In most places, a hotter atmosphere is often associated with a wetter atmosphere, which can lead to stronger hurricanes and storms. In dry regions, on the contrary, a hotter atmosphere means longer droughts and more intense wildfires.
As our planet becomes warmer, lots of plants and animal species find it difficult to adapt to the changing climate. Coral reefs, for example, are dying because the ocean is simply too warm. Many animals, such as polar bears and penguins, are losing their homes and food supply due to global warming. Yet other wildlife, such as sea turtles, are affected by the warmer environment in other ways. The latter, for example, lay their eggs in the sand, the temperature of which determines the baby turtle’s sex! Warmer sand leads to the birth of more female turtles, which affects reproduction and the future of this species’ population.
3. Human Activities Are Among the Main Causes of Global Warming
There are many drivers of global warming. However, it is human activities that have contributed the most to accelerate the trend in recent decades.
Burning of fossil fuels
Many countries burn fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas to generate electricity. Currently, 80% of the world’s energy comes from burning fossil fuels. Unfortunately, this process releases immense quantities of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. These stay in the atmosphere, trapping heat from the sun and warming the Earth.
Forests take in huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the air. That’s why they are often referred to as ‘carbon sinks’! Through photosynthesis, all plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, contributing to cleaning the air we breathe!
Sadly, many forests are being cut down to get wood which is used in large quantities around the world to make buildings, furniture, and paper among other things. Trees are also removed to make way for farming, where crops are grown, or where farm animals can eat. In tropical areas, large areas of forest are cleared to plant coffee, rubber trees, and palm trees.
When this happens, more carbon dioxide stays in the air, continuing to trap heat.
4. Not All Hope is Lost and With the Right Efforts, We Can Stop Global Warming Before it’s Too Late!
Global warming is the biggest threat humanity has faced in recent times, but not all hope is lost. If we all play our part, we can help to slow it down and avoid some catastrophic consequences.
Fortunately, scientists agree that we already have all the solutions we need, from cleaner sources of energy like renewables to carbon-capture technologies that take in carbon dioxide from the air. It is now time for governments around the world to start investing in these solutions.
As individuals, we can also do our part to save the environment. Every small action counts, from using energy-saving lightbulbs and recycling our trash to making more sustainable choices as consumers.