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What is Global Warming? A Simple Explanation for Children

Team StoryWeavers|March 07, 2023, 16:02 IST|

Hello and welcome to the most recent Kiki’s Knowledge Corner episode. It is getting hotter by the day. You may have overheard your family members and siblings talking about global warming. Do you know what global warming is and how it affects us? Let’s find out the answers to some of the frequently asked questions about global warming.

What is global warming?

In a nutshell, global warming is the rise in the planet’s temperature. It means that the Earth is getting warmer as the years go by. It has been going on for a while now, though the speed has increased lately due to many reasons like the burning of fossil fuels, the destruction of forests, etc. 

Remember that we’re talking about the average temperature of the whole planet, not how temperatures change in different parts of the world. Earth’s climate has changed many times over; what is special about this time is its speed. 

What is the difference between weather and climate? 

Here’s the difference between climate and weather. The weather changes every day. For example, today it is sunny and tomorrow it might rain. However, the climate is more consistent, as it spans at least several decades. For example, we expect it to be cold in December and hot in May. That’s climate. So, when you hear people say ‘today was the hottest day in years’ or ‘today was the coldest day in the last few years’–they are talking about climate records that go over decades.   

A couple of degrees of temperature difference may not seem much at the moment, but it is a considerable change that is going to hurt life on the planet in the long run. 

Did you know that 10 of the warmest years on record have happened since 2010? 

What causes global warming?  

Some of the sunlight that the Earth receives from the Sun gets reflected back into space. Most of it gets absorbed by the land and oceans. This absorbed sunlight heats our planet. 

The rocks, air and the seas give off heat when they get hot. The heat then gets absorbed by water vapour and greenhouse gases in the air. Similar to how bricks in a fireplace are hot after the fire goes out, these tiny molecules of water and greenhouse gases send heat in all directions. If not for this greenhouse effect, the Earth would be a chilly place. 

Here’s when things get a little tricky. Human activities, like burning fossil fuels, increase the amount of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. We now have more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than in the past 4,00,000 years. These activities are making the Earth to warm up faster, resulting in climate change. So, if we want to stop climate change, we need to act quickly.  

What is climate change?

People often think that the words ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ mean the same thing. However, it is not the case. Global warming causes climate change.

Climate change is all about changes in the temperature and weather patterns over a long period of time. It affects everything from our housing to our ability to grow food.  It is a big threat to all forms of life on Earth. 

Did you learn anything new? Do you have any more questions? Would you like to share some solutions to combat global warming and climate change? Let us know in the comments below. 

Disclaimer: This post has been overly simplified to make it easy for children (Ages 5–8) to read and understand. 

Also read, 

About the Author

“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She wholeheartedly believes in the quote by Arthur Rubinstein that says – “if you love life, life will love you back”. She is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grades 2 & 3, as a part of the Teach For India Fellowship. These little girls have a special place in her heart, and when she writes for children, she writes for them!

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