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Understanding Global Warming

You've probably heard the term "global warming" before, but what does it mean? Is it really all that bad that the earth is getting a little warmer? Read on for the essential info.

What is Global Warming?

Climate is the pattern of weather over the long term. The climate has always changed, getting warmer and cooler over years. Though climate change isn't new, the speed with which the climate is changing is. Global warming is a term used to describe the increase in average global temperatures due to the greenhouse effect. But what is that?

The Greenhouse Effect

Scientists generally agree that the Earth's surface has warmed by about one degree Fahrenheit in the past 140 years. That might not sound like much, but it has definitely impacted the earth. Scientists also think the rate at which the earth is heating up is increasing. The greenhouse effect is what scientists believe is causing the sharp increase in global temperatures. The earth's atmosphere traps solar radiation, caused by the presence of gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane (from pollution) in the atmosphere, which allows incoming sunlight to pass through it but won't allow the heat to escape back out (like in a greenhouse).

What's So Bad About Global Warming?

Climate change can negatively affect the earth's delicate ecosystems. Global warming has been linked to dying coral reefs, dangerous new weather patterns and the extinction of plant and animal species.

What Can You Do?

Reducing pollution helps to reduce global warming. Here are a few ideas:

  • Walk to school instead of getting the 'rents to drive you.
  • Don't use too much electricity. Use energy compact fluorescent light bulbs, turn off the lights when you leave a room, and don't leave the TV on when you're not using it.
  • Tell your parents what you know about global warming. It's important that they know as much as you do so they can vote for politicians who care about the environment.
  • Recycle.
  • Plant trees. Trees help to combat pollution by absorbing carbon dioxide from the air.

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