Global Warming

Global Warming

The long-term heating of Earth's climate

Global warming is the process of our planet heating up. You might wonder what the problem with this is – everyone likes sunny countries anyway, right? The problem is that this is having devastating effects on life on Earth, with many plant and animal species struggling to survive including, in many parts of the world, humans.

Global Warming
A picture to illustrate global warming.

Why is our planet warming?

Global warming is being driven by human activity.

Human activities are releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The most common type of greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is released when we burn fossil fuelsAncient energy sources (coal, oil and gas) in the earth’s crust that are used to heat homes, make electricity and power vehicles. to heat homes, make electricity, power vehicles, and so much more! What is more? As well as releasing greenhouses gases such as carbon dioxide, we are bulldozing our rainforests and trees which absorb carbon dioxide in a process called deforestation. So, we are both emitting more carbon dioxide, and absorbing less carbon dioxide! 

Greenhouse gases work like a greenhouse’s glass – the sunlight enters through them but can’t leave. So, they trap heat from the sun inside the atmosphere causing the earth to warm.

Earth has warmed by about 1°C since the industrial revolution (a period in the late 18th century when power-driven machinery and large factories were introduced).

Global Warming
A picture to show the greenhouse effect.

What are the effects of global warming?

Global warming has devastating effects on plants, animals, and humans living on the planet!

Humans and animals can suffer from heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke causing illness and meaning that they can’t be as productive at school or at work.

Crops also suffer in a similar way. Many plants can’t survive the high temperatures and start to die or produce less crop. This means that farmers are able to produce less food to feed the world, and to earn money to feed themselves, causing poverty and hunger around the world. 

But global warming is just one small part of a much bigger problem, called climate change. Climate change refers to changes in the earth’s weather patterns, rather than just global warming. These include more extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, and storms. All of these can damage or destroy crops, buildings & infrastructure and can sometimes even lead to animals and people dying.

Global Warming
Failed corn crop.

How can people like you help?

We need willing and enthusiastic people like you to take a stand against climate change. Remember that any positive change you make, no matter how small, will be slowing climate change. 

You can:

  • Protest for climate: Check out the Fridays for Future website or the UK Student Climate Network  (if you are in the UK) to find a protest near you. If you can’t find a protest near you then create your own! Don’t forget to get permission from your parent or guardian to miss school, and make sure that a responsible adult joins the protest with you.
  • Write to businesses to ask them to make it attractive for their employees to travel to work in planet-friendly ways. For example, they could offer a cycle-to-work scheme, or provide discounts on public transport. Of course, it is even better if they allow people to work from home sometimes!
  • Change your behaviour so as to burn as little fossil fuels as possible. You could: walk or cycle rather than using a car, switch off lights when not in use, and avoid using air conditioning or heating until you really need to.

Relevant SDG:

If you’d like to learn more about global warming and its effects, check out the page on UN Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action.

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