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Greenhouse Earth Phew! I'm hot!

Youíve probably heard about the Ďgreenhouse effectí. If you walk into a greenhouse on a sunny day, itís Help! My friends are dying!very warm inside because the Sunís heat is trapped by the glass. Carbon dioxide gas pumped into the air by burning fuels has just the same effect: it traps the Sunís heat energy near the surface of the Earth making the air and oceans warmer. This is what scientists call climate change or global warming. The Earth is warmer than it should be so the seas and oceans take up more space because warmer water expands. The warming is also making icy places like the Arctic and my home, the Antarctic, melt away. Lots of my penguin friends are dying because of this and because of pollution. The melted ice drains into the oceans, making sea levels rise even more.

Although the planet, as a whole, is warming up because of the greenhouse effect, it's not happening at the same rate everywhere. Some places aren't getting warmer so much as wetter and windier. So the term 'climate change' is more useful.
Sea level rise
Floating ice, like that in the Arctic doesn't affect sea levels when it melts. What does affect the levels are the ice sheets and glaciers which cover most of Greenland and Antarctica. The Greenland ice is melting fast and if it all melts, sea levels everywhere would rise by about 8 metres. That means flooding on a massive scale all around the world.

Warming means that the level of the sea goes up everywhere causing lots of floods.Chaos: floods, storms Warming also means more unpleasant weather with more and bigger hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes and cyclones. That means lots of people will get killed – or go hungry because their land is flooded, washed away or their crops spoiled. Other places will get hot and dry as people cut down more and more forests.Dead forests

There is more and more evidence that this is actually happening as storms release more rain and cause terrible flooding.
Cutting the forests
Cutting down forests in tropical parts of the world turns out to be more destructive than you'd think. And much of the destruction is against the laws of the countries where it's happening. It's not just that the beautiful giant trees get cut and dragged away: the result is a big mess which is either abandoned or turned into plantations. Either way, the result is that the area that used to be forest gives off lots of CO2, adding to climate change problems where once there were big trees which took CO2 out of the air and stored it. As for all the animals and plants that had their homes in the forest... well, they're all dead.

I donít want to see these things happening and I donít suppose you do either. So what can we do? Donít worry! There are many ways to slow climate change without having to go without energy.

Back to my energy home page back to 'What is pollution?'

forward to 'Nuclear power — Help at hand?'


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