Global Warming

Global warming is one of the main factors of climate change. Scroll down to see what it is all about!

Image by James Day

A bit about global warming

Global warming causes immediate and direct effects on the planet. One of these effects is a sharp rise in global temperatures. Based on data from January to September 2021, the global temperature for 2021 has risen about 1.09°C above the 1850-1900 average. Although this change in global temperature may not seem like a big deal to you, it poses drastic effects on Earth. Before we look at some of these effects, let us take a look at what is the main cause of global warming. 

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What causes global warming?

Global warming is mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Coal and oil are examples of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are burned to produce energy so that we can use electricity in our daily lives. When fossil fuels burn, they release greenhouse gases which can be harmful if too much are produced. This increases Earth's temperatures drastically and thus leads to global warming. 

Image by Marcin Jozwiak

Greenhouse gases

As said earlier, when fossil fuels burn, they release greenhouse gases. This increases Earth's temperatures and leads to global warming. But what exactly are greenhouse gases?

Greenhouse gases act like the glass of a greenhouse. During the day, sunlight warms the Earth. At night, most of the heat escapes into space. However, greenhouse gases trap some of the heat, causing Earth to be warmer each time. This process is called the greenhouse effect.

 

Despite its negative effect, having the right amount of greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere is good. Without greenhouse gases, all the sun's heat would escape back into space at night and then Earth would be too cold for living things to thrive. However, excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can also pose a threat to Earth. When too much greenhouse gas is in Earth's atmosphere, too much of the Sun's heat is trapped in the atmosphere, causing Earth to get too hot. If Earth gets too hot, living things will also not be able to thrive. 

There are many different types of greenhouse gases. These are two of them:

Carbon dioxide

Earth's atmosphere contains different kinds of greenhouse gases. The one that people know of the most is carbon dioxide. The exhaust from vehicles and airplanes add a lot of carbon dioxide into the air. We humans also add more carbon dioxide to Earth's atmosphere by burning fossil fuels in factories.

Fun fact!

One car puts about 5 tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year! 

Methane

Methane is another kind of greenhouse gas. Methane makes up only 9% (9 percent) of our greenhouse gases. However, it can hold over twenty times more heat than carbon dioxide! Methane leaks into the air during the production of fossil fuels.  It is also given off by farm animals' when they pass gas.

Two other gases make up a small percentage of greenhouse gases: nitrous oxide and fluorides. Nitrous oxides mainly comes from farms' fertilizer, while fluorides is used in refrigeration.

Greenhouse gases are also released during deforestation. To find out more about deforestation, go to the lesson article on deforestation or simply click the button below.

The effects of global warming on Earth

As said earlier, global warming causes many effects on Earth. Below are some examples of the impacts of global warming on Earth:

  • More heat waves

​Global warming can make heat waves hotter, longer and more common. 

  • Rising sea levels

Due to increased ocean temperatures, more glaciers and ice caps are melting all over the world. Melted ice increases the volume of ice, which later melt into water, in our oceans. Higher temperatures also result in the expansion of the water's mass, which also causes sea levels to rise. This threatens low-lying islands and coastal cities.

  • More frequent and intense extreme weather events

As a result of global warming, extreme weather events like bushfires, droughts and floods are expected to become more frequent and intense.

  • Increase in the expense of food​

Changes to rainfall patterns, increasingly severe drought, more frequent heat waves and flooding make it more difficult for farmers to graze livestock and grow produce, reducing food availability and hence making food more expensive to buy.

  • Health

Increasingly severe and frequent heat waves may lead to illness or even death. Higher temperatures and humidity could also produce more mosquito-borne disease.​​

Quiz time!

Q: Name an example of a fossil fuel.

Click the button below for the answer: