Climate Change

What is climate change?

The atmosphere traps some of the sun’s energy so that there is enough heat to warm the earth for animals, plants and humans to live in. This is a natural process and is referred to as the ‘greenhouse effect’.

Using everyday things such as electricity and driving cars, produces extra greenhouse gases. These extra gases make the earth’s atmosphere thicker so it traps more heat; a process called global warming. This has made the earth’s temperature rise and the ice covering the North and South poles has started to melt, causing sea levels to rise.

As a result, the climate has changed with an increase in floods, especially around coastal areas and flood plains as well as storms, hurricanes, heat waves and droughts. It has even affected wildlife; polar bears and penguins are under threat of becoming extinct if global warming continues.

What can I do to help climate change?

We all need to do our bit to look after the environment and help reduce climate change and global warming. If you change the simplest of things in your everyday life you can make all the difference.

  • Take trains, buses or cycle instead of going by car
  • Don’t leave electrical items switched on, or on standby mode – turn them off at the mains
  • Switch to energy-saving light bulbs
  • Re-use carrier bags and plastic bottles
  • Recycle all packaging including cardboard, newspapers, bottles and cans
  • Buy local food items rather than food that has travelled for thousands of miles to be sold in supermarkets
  • Turn heating and thermostats down by 1°
  • Wash clothes at 30° instead of 40°
  • Use a washing line or airer to dry clothes rather than a tumble dryer
  • Have a shower rather than a bath
  • Plant a tree in your garden
  • Take a holiday in the UK rather than flying abroad
  • Give unwanted clothes to charities rather than just throwing them out

What are other people doing to help climate change?

As well as every individual doing their bit to tackle climate change and global warming, it’s important that governments and world leaders contribute too.

Every five years, world leaders meet for an Earth Summit, which explores ways to reduce global warming and climate change. In 1997, a global agreement on reducing dangerous greenhouse gases was reached called the ‘Kyoto Protocol’.

As part of the Kyoto Protocol, the UK has to make sure that, by 2010, its greenhouse gas emissions are around 23 per cent less than they were in 1990.

In March 2010, Defra (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) published its Climate Change Plan. The Plan explains what Defra is doing to address the risks and opportunities that climate change presents. You can read more about climate change on the Defra website.

The plan includes things like phasing out inefficient light bulbs and making new homes more energy efficient; improving fuel efficiency in cars; encouraging bicycle riding and increasing recycling facilities.

The Eden Project uses exhibits, events, workshops and educational programmes to remind people what nature gives to us and to help people to learn how to look after it in return. It has hosted a Young People’s Climate Change Summit and provides climate change programmes for schools, as well as offering workshops for school visits.

Find out more by visiting www.edenproject.com.

Who can help?

For more information or for more ways to go green visit www.goinggreen.co.uk.

For creative ideas on recycling everyday bits and bobs, visit www.recyclethis.co.uk.

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading conservation charity, dedicated to the protection of our woodland heritage. Visit them online at www.woodland-trust.org.uk.

For advice and ideas on recycling, visit www.recyclenow.com.

Find out more about Environmental Discovery Holidays, along with the latest news, information and competitions about the environment and sustainability, on the Young People’s Trust for the Environment website.

You can read more about global warming at CBBC Newsround and find out more about climate change at Need2know.co.uk.

Find out more about action on climate change by visiting Directgov’s climate change section and DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

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