GLOBAL WARMING

by cbbc

What is global warming?
Global warming is the rise in temperature of the earth's atmosphere.
It's said that by the time a baby born today is 80 years old, 
the world will be 6 and a half degrees warmer than it is now.

Is global warming bad?
The earth is naturally warmed by rays (or radiation) from the sun 
which pass through the earth's atmosphere and 
are reflected back out to space again.

The atmosphere's made up of layers of gases, 
some of which are called 'greenhouse gases'. 
They're mostly natural and make up a 
kind of thermal blanket over the earth.

This lets some of the rays back out of the atmosphere, 
keeping the earth at the right temperature for animals, 
plants and humans to survive (60°F/16°C).

So some global warming is good. 
But if extra greenhouse gases are made, 
the thermal blanket gets thicker and too much 
heat is kept in the earth's atmosphere. 
That's when global warming's bad.

What are the greenhouse gases?
Greenhouse gases are made out of:

-water vapour
-carbon dioxide
-methane
-nitrous oxide
-ozone
-chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

They are all natural gases, but extra greenhouses 
gases can be made by humans from pollution.

How are extra greenhouse gases produced?
Extra greenhouse gases are produced through activities 
which release carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide 
and ozone CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). 
These activities include:
-Burning coal and petrol, known as 'fossil fuels'
-Cutting down of rainforests and other forests
-Animal waste which lets off methane

 

What's the 'ozone layer' got to do with global warming?
The ozone layer is another important part of the atmosphere.

It's made up of ozone (a type of oxygen) that protects 
the earth from too many harmful rays called UVB.

So what could happen?
If Earth gets hotter, some of the important changes could happen:
-Water expands when it's heated and oceans 
absorb more heat than land, so sea levels would rise.

-Sea levels would also rise due to the melting of the glaciers and sea ice.

-Cities on coasts would flood.

-Places that usually get lots of rain and snowfall might get hotter and drier.

-Lakes and rivers could dry up.

-There would be more droughts making hard to grow crops.

-Less water would be available for drinking, showers and swimming pools.

-Some plants and animals might become extinct because of the heat.

-Hurricanes, tornadoes and other storms which are 
caused by changes in heat and water 
evaporation may get more common.

 

What's being done about it?
The United Nations has meetings where world leaders 
agree on what to do about global warming.

Every five years, the Earth Summit happens.

In 1997 there was an Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and in 1997, 
an agreement was made at the UN Conference on Climate Change 
in Kyoto, Japan, to cut the amount of gases that industries make.

Leaders agree the world can cut the amount of carbon dioxide 
that's released into the atmosphere by 
changing the way power is produced too.

In February 2003, the British Government set out its 
plans to produce electricity using "greener" ways.

 

What can I do?
There are ways you can help cut greenhouse gases 
and help stop global warming.
They are simple things, but can make 
a difference if everyone does them!
Re-cycle glass bottles, jars, newspapers and magazines and tin cans. 
Save them and take them to local re-cycling centres.

1- Re-use plastic shopping bags and envelopes, don't get new ones

2-Persuade you mum or dad (or whoever does the gardening) 
to have a compost heap.

3-Put a brick in a plastic bag into your toilet cistern, 
then the toilet will use less water each time you flush. 
Don't worry that's plenty of water to get rid of...

4-Use paper on both sides.
Try and buy products that don't use much packaging.

5-Give unwanted gifts and clothes to a charity shop.

6-Only fill the kettle up with the amount of 
water you need to boil that time.

7-Don't leave the TV or video on standby.

8-If you get lift to school in a car, take your mates along for the ride.

9-Ask whoever does your washing to use the 
machine at 40 degrees, this helps conserve power.

10-Switch lights off when you're not in the room

11-Get a clockwork mobile phone recharger

12-Cycle to places!

13-Have showers instead of baths.

Wave power
-Waves can produce energy either offshore or on coastline plants
-UK has lots of waves to use because of the Atlantic Ocean
-Wave technology is still experimental

-Works using waves to trap air and pressurise it. 
This then powers a turbine

-Environmentalists worry about noise pollution 
from wave machines affecting plants and animals

-Could also disrupt shipping navigation.

Wind power

-Wind can be used to drive turbines which in turn produce electricity
-UK already has over 1,000 wind turbines
-First built in Cornwall in 1991

-Hundreds more have been built since in Cumbria, 
Wales, Yorkshire, Northern Ireland and Scotland

-Some are on land, some on water where it's windier

-Produce 555.8 megawatts of energy - 
enough to power nearly 400,000 homes

-Wind energy is renewable, clean, and cheap

-But critics say turbines are an eyesore.

Water power (hydro electricity)
-Water is used to drive turbines to produce electricity
-Underused in this country
-Generates 20% of the world's power
-But only 2% of UK's electricity
-Almost 200 hydro electric plants in UK - most in Scotland

-Campaigners say hydro electricity is greener because 
water can be stored behind dams and used 
to create electricity when needed most.

 

Other ways of making green energy
-Gas produced from rotting rubbish on landfill sites could be used
-Experts are also looking at energy crops
-Small scale and domestic solar energy are being developed.

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