Climate change

@DolarToday / Nov 8, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

Introduction to Climate change

Many people make Climate Change and Global Warming a scary and difficult thing to understand, but it’s not.
explain global warming

Scientists have warned that the world’s climate has changed a lot, and has affected many living and non-living things.

Many places that were warmer are now getting colder, and many colder regions are getting much more colder or even warmer (know as Global Warming).

For example, between 1901 and 2012, it is believed that the earth’s temperature has risen by 0.89 °C. Rainfall amounts have also risen in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere since the beginning of the 20th Century. It is also believed that sea levels have risen up to about 19cm globally, with lots of glaciers melting in addition.

Some people do not believe that these are caused by human activities. They think it is all political and falsehood intended to cause panic among humans.

Well, whatever it is, we would like to know more, and take a few good points from this confusion, and use them to make our world a better place to live.

Tip Button Tip…
Climate change refers to general changes in climate patterns, including temperature, precipitation, winds, and other factors.

Global warming (as well as global cooling) refers specifically to any change in the global average surface temperature. Do not confuse the two.


Let’s start by learning a few tricky terms that we may need to explain Climate Change better.

Important Climate Change Terms

This describes the total of all weather occurring over a period of years in a given place. It is the average weather condition of that place. Climate tells us what it’s usually like in the place where you live.

For example, some countries like Cameroon, Ghana and Liberia are all in the tropical wet region of Africa. They have a very sunny, hot and wet climate all year round. However, there may be very different day-to-day weather conditions in each village or town in these countries.

Weather is all around us. Weather may be one of the first things you notice when you wake up. Weather describes whatever is happening outdoors in a given place at a given time. It can change a lot within a very short time. For example, It can be windy at night, rainy in the morning, hot and sunny at noontime, and even back to windy before sunset. It includes daily changes in rainfall, temperature and wind in a given location.

Greenhouse is also another word you should know about. Have you ever seen a greenhouse? In some countries, people build a small glass house to plant crops in it. It is built to keep the sun’s heat from escaping from the glasshouses.
Example of a green house gas
In a way, the earth is like a glasshouse. The earth has some very important gasses in the atmosphere that keeps us warm.

Some of these gases are water vapour, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane.

When the sun heats the earth, these gases keep the heat on the earth’s surface. Without these gases, heat would escape back into space and Earth’s average temperature would be about 60°F colder.


How does the Greenhouse Effect happen?

OK, let’s see how greenhouse gases work in the atmosphere in 5 simple steps… and there is a great video illustration too…How the greenhouse effect happens

bulletThe earth’s atmosphere is all around us.
It is the air that we breathe.

global warming process
bulletSunlight enters the Earth’s atmosphere,
passing through the blanket of greenhouse gases.

global warming process
bulletAs it reaches the earth’s surface, the land
and water absorbs the sunlight’s energy.

global warming process
bulletOnce absorbed, the energy is sent back into the
atmosphere in the form of infra-red rays.

global warming process
bulletSome of the energy passes back into space, but much of it remains trapped in the atmosphere by the greenhouse gases, causing our globe (earth) to warm up.

global warming process
bulletThis warming is what we call Global Warming, and it is caused by the greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect is important. Without the greenhouse effect, the earth would not be warm enough for humans to live. But if the greenhouse effect becomes stronger, it could make the earth warmer than usual. Even a little extra warming of the earth may cause problems for humans, plants and animals.

What brings about more Greenhouse gases?

In this new era (the age of industrialization), the earth is full of industries. Millions of vehicles, aeroplanes and engines are produced every year. A lot of artificial things have been produced and have ended up in waste dumps. Humans produce much more waste than ever before.

Take a good look at the simple sketch below.

greenhouse emission

What did you notice in that sketch? What do all those activities have in common?

They all produce a lot of smoke, fumes and water vapor!

Energy production is still a major driver of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. For instance, in 2010, the energy sector emitted approximately 35% of GHG, followed by Agriculture, forests and other land uses (24%), Industry (21%), Transport (14%) and Building sector (6.4%) citation 1

Simply put, human’s reliance on artificial things, including all the things that make us comfortable at home, has contributed immensely to the emission of more greenhouse gases than before. These gases in the atmosphere have trapped more heat on the earth’s surface and made it warmer. This is Global Warming.

YOU and I also produce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in a way, by the things we use at home. Do you have some of these items in your house?
Home appliances that consume energyIt is very IMPORTANT that you turn off all electrical appliances when they are not in use. This is good practice, and you end up saving some money too.

Everything humans have at home or workplace need power to work. This power comes from burning fossil fuels and other natural sources. The more fuels are burnt, the more carbon dioxide are produced into the atmosphere.
This means each time your dad drives his car, or you turn on an electric appliance, you are indirectly adding to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

But thats not all — it must also be noted that less forest cover all over the world has resulted in less carbon absorption and storage. This is because plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. Additionally there is more methane release from permafrost due to higher temperatures.

This is not very good, as we are all contributing to global warming and climate change. This is a problem.

In recent time, some coal industries are finding ways to capture carbon dioxideemissions and storing them deep under the sea bed. This move is called Carbon Capture and Storage. 

Effects of Climate change

Let’s see these 4 good effects.

bulletGlobal warming causes thermal expansion of land and water. It also causes ice sheets to melt in icy regions of the world and mountain tops.
Large volumes of melted ice (water) then flows down into streams, rivers, lakes and seas. The result is rising sea and water levels, causing floods and massive destruction to low-lying towns and cities along water bodies. More on risisng sea levels here

Research shows that global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century, and the rate in the last decade is nearly double that of the last century. —Source:

bulletChanging climate may also cause the weather to become more extreme, be it droughts or violent storms and heavy rain.


Extreme changes in temperature makes people suffer breathing difficulties, head aches, body rashes and other illnesses.

bulletClimate change also distorts the natural habitats and lives of many plants and animals. For example, the survival of polar bears and penguins in icy regions are in danger, as they cannot survive anywhere else. Other plants and animals in hot regions will die if temperatures suddenly become too cold for them.

Tip ButtonDid you know…
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005. —Source:

icy regions

bulletThe same amount of water in the water cycle will not be affected, but its timing, amounts, regularity and distibution will be impacted. Mid latitudes and dry subtropical regions may experience reduction in water flow, whiles high latitudes and humid mid-latitude regions may have increased water flow. There may be streamflow uncertainty in many other regions, because of reduced snow and ice storage. Availability of clean water may be affected too, for instance, the quality of lakes used for water supply could be impaired by the presence of algae producing toxins.citation

The ripple effect of all the effects above is quiet overwhelming. Now, lets see what we can do about it…

Interesting facts on climate change

Rising global temperatures
A rising trend in global temperatures have been noticed after analyzing data for the last century. Scientists are aware that the difference in temperatures around the world is very wide apart, but after taking readings at specific locations over a long period of time, it is observed that there are more places warming up than cooling down.

From 1900-2009, global average surface temperatures rose by approximately 0.7°C (1.3°F). It has also been noted that the rate of increase has risen in recent time.
Source: Climate Change: Global Temperature, by LuAnn Dahlman, August 30, 2009

Carbon Dioxide (carbon dioxide)
Humans burning coal, natural gas and oils for manufacturing and transportation, since the Industrial Revolution, has produced and released massive carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

To put this in perspective, about 38% more carbon dioxide has been released into the atmosphere, a value higher than has been measured for over 800,000 years. And yes, the amounts we release is still rising year after year. Source: Report by Caitlyn Kennedy, August 30, 2009, Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Ocean acidification
The acidity of the earth’s oceans is known to have increased by about 30%. This is a result of more carbon dioxide emitted since the Industrial Revolution, being absorbed by the oceans. carbon dioxide being absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.Source: PMEL Carbon Program, Ocean Acidification.
Click to read more about Ocean Acidification.

Melting Glaciers
Glaciers are massiveamounts of snow that have stayed long enough to harden into blocks of ice. Smaller blocks could be the size of a football field and larger once could be hundreds of kilometers long. Glaciers can move like rivers too. On the average, glaciers are losing ice at the rate of about 28 inches of water per year. Scientists revealed that even though only a small fraction of glaciers have been monitored since 1980, the trend is one that we need to be aware of.

Which regions of the world are producing more carbon dioxide?

countries that emit more co2

In December 2014, Nasa’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) released its first map of the Earth’s surface where carbon dioxide is being emitted and absorbed. Even though the mission is in its early stages, the data will help scientists to better understand how human activities affects climate. Source: NASA

Things you can do about global warming.

Before we look at what you can do, it is important to note that big automobile industries, refineries, commercial farmers, and others are the main bodies with the highest carbon emissions. This is because we rely on them to provide products and food that we enjoy at home. This means if we reduce our reliance for these big industries, they won’t have to produce more.

So, a good way to solve the problem may be from our government and legislature level to regulate these big companies. We can get our leaders to make laws that discourage activities that has high carbon footprint.

Did you know… Energy production and consumption contribute greatly to emissions. This means improving energy efficiency will reduce global emissions. In modern times, new energy efficient buildings use 60–90% less energy than conventional buildings of a similar type and configuration.carbon emissions

But many of our leaders have been a bit disappointing. So it is our turn to do our bit!

What about you? …in your own little way?
Start by reducing your carbon footprint. Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were produced by your activities in a given time frame.

Let’s start with vehicles. Vehicles produce greenhouse gases.

bulletGo by bus!
Get your family to go to school, work, market, holiday, place of worship on a bus rather than in daddy’s car. It’s cheaper too, and you save some money.

bulletWalk! Don’t drive.
Walk to the shop, market, farm, school and everywhere. Sometimes there are too many cars causing heavy traffic and it is better to walk. It is also great exercise.

bulletRide! Don’t drive.
You can always ride down to almost everywhere. It’s great fun and very good exercise!

what is global warmingbulletProtect and plant trees.
Planting trees is fun and a great way to reduce greenhouse gases. Trees absorb CO2, (a greenhouse gas) from the air. This means the air will be fresher and also help regulate climate. You can also save old trees by protecting them from being cut down. One great way to have fun with trees is to plant one on every special day like your birthday, Christmas, National holidays or even in memory of special friends.

bulletRecycle, reduce and re-use items.
Recycling, reducing the use of things and re-using things is also a brilliant attitude for us to acquire. When we recycle cans, bottles, plastic and paper, we send less trash to landfill. It also helps save natural resources such as trees, oil and aluminum.
Recycle more
When you go shopping, always look for the recycle mark on products before buying them. The mark means they have been produced from recycled materials, and you want to encourage them to do so.

If your community does not have recycling services with waste collection, this is the time to join a group to talk about it.

In recent time, some coal industries are finding ways to capture CO2 emissions and storing them deep under the sea bed. This move is called Carbon Capture and Storage.




What else can be done?

Be active.
Doing NOTHING about a problem can make it worse.
But above all, live by example!

Finding information and learning about issues, like you are doing, is the first step to solve problems. When you understand a problem, you are in a better position to find a solution for it.

Sharing the correct information and facts with family and friends is the second thing, because when more people change attitudes, the impact is greater.

Take part
Thirdly, join societies, pressure groups and set examples for others to follow. You can also put pressure on your local government and leaders to be responsible.

So… this is it. Ask your friends to come and learn with us and let’s share ideas on how we can help STOP GLOBAL WARMING.

If you have spotted something that can be improved in this lesson, send us a mail too. We would love that a lot.

Thank You for learning with us. You can also check out other lessons
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