What Causes Climate Change? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Corrie Boone

Corrie holds master's in elementary education, taught elementary ESL in the public schools for 5 years, and recently was teaching EFL abroad.

Have you heard of climate change and global warming before? Do they seem complicated and hard to understand? Well, they can be, but luckily for you today we're going to learn all about them so you won't be confused anymore!

Have You Heard?

You've probably heard about climate change and global warming, maybe from your parents, your teacher, or even on TV. But do you know what they are or what causes them? Do you know they're harmful to Earth and you as a human? Today we're going to talk about climate change and global warming, why they're important, and what causes them.

What Is Climate Change?

To understand what climate change is, first you need to understand what climate is. Climate is the big picture of weather, put together with information like temperature and rainfall, for a region of Earth. For example, the climate of Alaska is cold and snowy, while California stays warm and doesn't see much snow.

So, climate change is the change that's happening to the climate all over Earth. The particular type of climate change that's troubling to scientists is the fact that Earth is getting hotter faster than scientists have ever seen before. This increase in temperature is called global warming. Global warming leads to climate change. Let's take a look at how this works, and why it's harmful to us and the planet.

The effects of global warming.
effects of global warming cartoons

The Greenhouse Effect

So, what's causing global warming? It's being caused by a phenomenon scientists call the greenhouse effect. A greenhouse is a glass house people build to create the perfect environment to grow plants. Earth has its own sort of greenhouse - the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases high in Earth's atmosphere, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane, create a shield around Earth and act like a greenhouse.

Rays from the Sun pass through this layer of gas to warm Earth. Earth then gives off heat, which is shot back into space. The greenhouse gases stop some of the heat from escaping, keeping Earth warm enough for us to live. This is the greenhouse effect. Without this, life on Earth wouldn't be possible. It's a good thing for us!

the greenhouse effect

Global Warming

Global warming is being caused by the greenhouse effect getting too strong. The greenhouse effect gets stronger when more greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane) are released into the atmosphere. With the major advances in technology over the last 100 years, humans are using more and more energy, therefore releasing more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

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