Climate Change

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Climate Change & Global Warming

   What Everyone Should Know... And What Each of Us Can Do About It.

We On February 17, 2005 Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography reported that they had found clear evidence of human-produce warming in the world's oceans. The evidence, they say, "removes much of the uncertainty associated with debates about global warming."    It should be noted here that the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research in the world. This announcement by the scientists as Scripps sounds the death toll to an era of heel dragging, shoulder-shrugging, and outright denial of the scope and reality of the problem. Unfortunately there will likely remain those who, for the sake of short term financial gain, political power games, and intellectual hubris will continue to deny the need to take action. And yet as author and scientist David Brin has pointed out, just as ordinary citizens leapt into action to respond to the crisis of the 911 disaster, so too do we ordinary citizens have the ability and responsibility to raise up our awareness and assess what we can do in any crisis that threatens our lives, our nations, and the welfare of our children.

To help our readers share this issue effectively with the children in their lives, and to join with them in taking constructive action to slow global warming and in motivating our government to do the same, we have included a summary of the global warming situation, a list of common myths about global warming (as well as the facts which dispel them), a quick overview of the key indicators that global warming is already in progress, and some great information to help you take action on this critical problem.  

If you're ready to do something to help your community, nature, and the planet, then check out our Kids Can Change the World pages to discover simple things that you can do to make a difference.  Just remember, we can accomplish even more when we work together with others!  So if you would like to form your own Earth's Kids chapter, check out KIDS CLUB and send us some email about becoming a chapter leader!  KIDS CLUB is for those who want to get out in nature to learn and discover and to work together to make a positive difference for our planet through greening your lifestyle, doing simple service projects, and expanding your knowledge about nature.  But most of all... KIDS CLUB is about having fun!  




Global Warming, A Summary

Click to view official report.

While some people still think global warming is just a fairy tale invented by the Chicken Littles of the world, the reality is that global warming is a fact of life acknowledged by all mainstream scientists.  It is irrefutable.   Not too long ago there was considerable argument over whether the measured rise in temperature over the last hundred years is a normal cycle of nature, or a human-caused phenomenon.  But in 2001 a panel representing virtually all the world's governments and climate scientists agreed that Earth's atmosphere was warming at a rate without precedent during at least the last 10 thousand years.  They also agreed: this warming was not merely a natural cycle within nature, but rather it was caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases from human activities as car exhaust and the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity. 

But skeptics continued to dismiss this learned consensus with a wave of the hand and an assortment of rabid, often conflicting remarks.   Now the landmark announcement by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (February 17, 2005) provides scientific evidence tantamount to the legal trial's  "smoking gun" -- it really is happening, it really is man-made.  But there is good news in this too --  changes in human actions should make a difference in the future of the global warming trend.

For some time scientist have predicted that global warming will cause rising sea levels, permanently submerging current coastal areas, islands, and some other low-lying regions.  The cause is simple:  the polar ice packs will begin melting.  Secondly we have all realized that global warming means hotter temperatures generally, and more severe summer heat waves.  This may in turn lead to water shortages and even power shortages as air conditioners and refrigeration systems work over time.

But now scientists are finding evidence that shows that not only are the polar ice packs melting, but the snow packs atop the world's major mountain chains are also melting earlier in the season and building up in lesser volume.   This latter finding means increased water run-off during the rainy season leading to flooding, extreme erosion and mud slides, followed by droughts in late spring and summer (when melting snow run-off would normally feed streams).  The higher level of summer temperatures may also cause more moisture to evaporate from the land, as well as from streams and reservoirs -- meaning yet more threat of drought.  The incidence of heat induced deaths is also expected to rise.

Naturally these kinds of changes will cause harm to animal habitats, threaten the survival of rare and endangered plant species, disrupt agriculture (heightening the threat of famine), and endanger human homes.  Many animals, rodents and insects that carry infectious diseases, may be forced to migrate from their present homes in search of food and water, as well as more comfortable or more stable living conditions.  As the news of these developments spread, children have already been asking us if they will one day have to explain to their grandchildren... what a polar bear was.




Indicators that  Global Warming Is Already in Progress
Facts, figures and other information from UCS

As you read the facts and figures below, you will notice that some of them seem pretty small and unimportant.  But what you will notice, before you are through, is that the Earth changes created by a small rise in temperature are already accelerating in size and frequency of occurrence.  Keep this in mind when you hear people repeating the same old myths about global warming.  Don't be afraid to speak up and set them straight!


Representative image of earlier times.Representative image of ice pack melt.


  • Since the beginning of the 20th century, the mean surface temperature of the earth has increased by about 1.1º F (0.6°Celsius)

  • Over the last 40 years, which is the period with most reliable data, the temperature increased by about 0.5 º F (0.2-0.3°Celsius).

  • Warming in the 20th century is greater than at any time during the past 400-600 years.

  • Seven of the ten warmest years in the 20th century occurred in the 1990s. 1998, with global temperatures spiking due to one of the strongest El Niños on record, was the hottest year since reliable instrumental temperature measurements began.

  • Scientists report that mountain glaciers the world over are receding.

  • The Arctic ice pack has lost about 40% of its thickness over the past four decades.

  • The global sea level is rising about three times faster over the past 100 years compared to the previous 3,000 years.

  • There are a growing number of studies that show plants and animals changing their range and behavior in response to shifts in climate.



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The Top Ten Myths About Global Warming

Read these popular myths about global warming, then read the accompanying science fact that shows the real situation.  Now you'll know what to say the next time you hear someone repeating one these myths!



Myth: It isn't really happening

Fact:   Documented science overwhelmingly shows temperatures   rising rapidly.

Myth: It's natural  

 Fact:  Temperature increases, especially since the 1970's, are far above natural variations.

Myth: Any effects well be very gradual 

Fact:  not only are severe storms getting stronger, but climate history shows sharp climate changes can occur  abruptly, in only a few years.

Myth: It does not affect the U.S.

Fact:  The U.S. is experiencing rising sea levels, more severe storms and droughts, die-off of forests, altered animal migrations, and loss of glaciers such as those in Glacier National Park.

Myth: It will be good for us 

Fact:  Some areas may become more pleasantly warm, but the cost of negative effects will far outweigh any benefits; disease and heat deaths are increasing.

Myth: Agriculture will benefit 

Fact:  CO2 may make some crops grow faster, but also will accelerate weeds, pests and droughts; crops may not grow well  where they once did as climate zones shift.

Myth:  It's being handled by our government

Fact:  The current U.S. Administration advocates studying, not dealing with, global warming;  its energy policy completely based on burning more coal &  oil.  Most state and local governments are unprepared for major changes.

Myth:  It's not a big deal compared to national security

Fact:  Global warming is actually the most serious threat to the widest range of human  concerns.  Our national and world security is directly threatened by negative climate effects on weather, water supply, disease, agriculture, marine resources, and health.

Myth:  Technology will solve the problem for us 

Fact:  Massive "fixes" like burying greenhouse gases are very unlikely, but many smaller changes can make a difference AND are available now.

Myth:  There's nothing to be done anyway

Fact:  Everyone can make a difference today!  Check out the solutions in the next section...

adapted from World View of Global Warming by Gary Braasch





We reported above that the Arctic has lost 40% of its thickness in the past 40 years.  But here are a few facts relating developments at our Earth's other pole, the Antarctic:



The Antarctic Peninsula is particularly sensitive to small rises in the annual average temperature.

Over the last 20 years there has been a steady  decline in the Antarctic Peninsula's Adélie penguin population.

Antarctic Krill populations, which feed baleen whales and other species, have fallen off  by as much as 80% in the last 30 years -- a development which may be rippling through the entire food chain.


Scientists have captured actual photographic evidence showing the dissolution of a significant Antarctic ice shelf:

Larsen B ice shelf, 17th Feb 2002

Larsen B ice shelf, 5th March 2002


Although mainstream scientists are cautious about jumping to conclusions, they fear it is unlikely that these developments in Antarctica can be dismissed as "a fluke" or as unrelated to the fate of the rest of the world's climate.



What Each of Us Can Do About the Problem

Click to learn about the carbon cycle.To understand how to slow global warming, we have to understand what causes it.  Essentially there are things we humans do and use that release heat-trapping gases and particles into the air.  What are these things?  The biggest causes are 1) the ongoing destruction of the world's forests and 2) the burning of fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal.   The harmful gases released include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxides.

The main solutions therefore are: 

1) Saving our forests and replanting those forests that have been destroyed

2) cutting back on our use of fossil fuels, and

3) making sure that when we burn fossil fuels we take measures to prevent the gases listed above from escaping into the atmosphere.


As private individuals there are a number of things we can do to support these goals, both in the areas of personal action, and through the pressure we bring to bear on our governments and businesses to comply with practices that slow global warming. 

Listed below you will find our list of specific things that you can do.  We ask that you not only choose a few of these items to take action on, but that you pass this information along to all of your friends, family, and work associates.  We can make a difference.  But first we must acknowledge that something must be done, and then... take action!



Some Further Suggestions....





  • Teach Others!

Image © Research Machines plc


Global Warming Materials For Educators
We Can Make A Difference!  -- Advice for Kids, from the EPA
The United Nations Climate Change Information Kit (pdf)

Saving the Environment -- More resources from Earth's Kids
Earth Day -- Tons of idea and resources for helping our planet.



  • Make Your Homes More Energy Efficient -- The more electricity our appliances, lighting,  heating, cooling, and entertainment consumes, the more fossil fuels are burned to produce electricity for our homes!  We can all help by turning off the lights and the TV when we don't really need them on and by changing our outfits (sweaters/tank tops) instead of adjusting the thermostat up or down,.  And don't forget, when it's time to replace your light bulb, choose maximum energy efficiency!  Most of us leave our lights on, all our lights on, for many, many hours.  It all adds up.   Also when it comes to selecting new electronics and appliances, look for the Energy Star symbol.  This means your buying a product that is highly energy efficient.    Finally, don't forget to unplug appliances that you're not really using -- especially freezers!   Read these  Tips from the EPA's Energy Star Program  for tons more information.

  • Choose Green Transportation!   Walk, Bike, or take Public Transportation! Okay, not everyone can choose one of these to get to work or to the other important places they must go.  But you can think before you drive.  Consolidate errands so you make fewer car trips.  And talk to friends, neighbors, and co-workers about carpooling.  Even if you only do it a couple days a week, you're making a significant reduction in greenhouse emissions.   Also, when it comes time to buy a new car, think a high fuel efficiency rating -- maximum miles per gallon means less fuel gets burned, and less toxins released into the atmosphere.  For more help choosing a car, don't miss the The Green Guide to Cars and Trucks

  • Use and Support Cleaner Energy Sources --  Did you know that half the power plants in the U.S. burn coal to fuel the generators that produce our electricity?  And, did you know that many of us can choose where we buy our power from?  Learn more from .    Learn more about clean energy policies and global warming from the Sierra Club.


  • Plant a Tree!  Even if you live in a city apartment with no yard -- or even a balcony -- you can plant a tree!  You can actually buy tree for people to plant in other parts of the world, sometimes reversing deforestation!  Visit Heifer International  for more information.


  • Support wise forest management -- Sure you can write letters to government officials, but you will be supporting sustainable forestry if you just make a point of finding out where the wood you're buying came from.  Whether it's firewood or furniture, think before you buy.  Wood that comes from clear-cutting (cutting down all the trees at once) , from heavily deforested areas, or from harvesting forests without properly replanting all spell trouble for the environment -- and for the Earth's ability to clean the air of excess carbon dioxide, and thus slow global warming.

  • Protect Our Oceans -- Did you know that every second breath you take comes from the oceans


More Information



Antarctic ice sheet is an 'awakened giant'

A Consensus Emerges Around Global Warming

Global Warming in China

Is Alaska Sinking?

Press Release on new evidence released by the Scripps Institution



Global Warming Information from the Sierra Club.

EPA's Energy Star Program & Global Warming

World View of Global Warming

Global Warming:  Early Warning Signs -- Hot Map

Union of Concerned Scientists, Global Warming


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
Global Warming

The Discovery of Global Warming

Global Warming: Focus on the Future

Pew Center for Global Climate Change





Global Warming: the Complete Briefing
by John Houghton

Global warming and the resulting climate change is one of the most serious environmental problems facing the world community. Global Warming: the Complete Briefing is the most comprehensive guide available to the subject. A world-renowned expert, Sir John Houghton explores the scientific basis of global warming and the likely impacts of climate change on human society, before addressing the action that could be taken by governments, by industry and by individuals to mitigate the effects. The first two editions received excellent reviews, and this completely updated new edition ( will prove to be the best briefing the student or interested general reader could wish for.




An Inconvenient Truth

This riveting documentary is narrated by former U. S. Vice President Al Gore and uses striking graphs and photographs to lay out the all too clear evidence that "global warming" is a very real phenomenon -- one that cannot be confused with the natural temperature fluctuations of the past.   While the information can be alarming, especially to those new to the situation, the positive solutions presented  by Gore offer hope and inspiration.   Suitable for middle school kids and older. 

Visit the film's official website for companion materials such as screensavers, email cards, fact sheets, and a guide for educators.   Educate yourself and the start spreading the word.  The folks in Washington D.C. are elected by us, so when they realize we all want them to do something they will.   They know their jobs depend on it!  



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