World average temperature (°C)
There are certain conditions that allow for
life to flourish on Earth. One of these conditions is that it is neither too
hot nor too cold for all living things. It’s just right – and we easily adapt
to it. In the past, there were changes in the Earth’s temperature that caused
the planet to become too cold - this is the time of the Ice Age. These
temperature changes were only a few degrees lower, but many species were unable
to cope and they went extinct.
More: Information about Global Warming
You hear about Global Warming and how many people are concerned that it is being caused by humans and human activity – and that it is threatening our very existence. Scientists are now 97% sure that it is true. With all the fossil fuel that we burn, there is definitely more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now as compared to the past. We use up so much energy and the continued increase in population can only mean that we will need and use more energy in the future. This means more carbon dioxide and methane emissions which contribute to the warming of the planet.
The planet is now 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer than it was back in the 1800’s. Much of the increase in temperature happened in the last 30 years. Can you imagine how much heat is required to warm the whole planet even by 1 degree?
Our atmosphere is responsible for keeping the Earth’s temperature stable. It is made up of layers of gases such as Water Vapor, Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide and Ozone.
When the sun’s rays warm the Earth, the Earth reflects the heat back into space. Some of this heat is trapped by the gases in our atmosphere, keeping the planet comfortably warm for everyone and the weather stable.
When we upset the balance of the gases in our atmosphere, problems will happen. Right now, we are adding more carbon dioxide and methane because of our activities. The result of these additional gases is more heat gets trapped on Earth, causing Global Warming.
More: Ice Cap Melting Facts
So, what’s the problem if the Earth becomes too warm? A lot of things that are not good for living things, including us.
For starters, the weather will change. Warm places will become colder and cold places will be warmer. The storms and hurricanes that we see from time to time will be stronger and more destructive, as the ocean temperatures increase too.
In some places, there will be less rainfall. Crops will be more difficult to grow as water becomes scarce. As water becomes scarce, food will also be harder to come by and there will be famine and hunger.
Then, the glaciers and the polar ice caps
will melt, causing the sea levels to rise. Remember that most of the major cities are
near the coastline. If the sea levels rise by 6 feet, most of them will go
under the water – destroying buildings and houses and killing off millions of
people, plants and animals.
More: Rising Sea Level Effects
Global Warming is a scary thought, but there is still something we can do now to stop the planet from getting warmer. If we don’t act now, our future generation will be the ones to suffer the consequences of our actions.
Find out how you can do your share to stop Global Warming and other environmental problems. Visit The World Counts: Stories. There are stories behind the numbers. Be in the know.
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