Students brainstorm what they know about climate change and watch a video featuring a youth reporter talking about climate change, what it means and why it matters. Through group discussion, students generate ideas and questions about climate change.
Weather refers to what’s happening outside right now: it’s sunny, rainy, windy, etc. Climate looks at weather patterns over longer periods of time at particular times of the year.
Climate change refers to a change in the longer term weather patterns including temperature, precipitation and wind. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the Earth’s temperature has risen almost 1 C since 1880; temperatures in many places in Arctic regions have risen by almost 2 C. Earth’s climate has always fluctuated over geological time; the difference is that the rate of change seems to be faster than seen before.
The temperature is rising, glaciers are melting, droughts are more severe and storms are happening more frequently. Forest fires in B.C., droughts in Alberta, droughts and forest fires in Australia and extreme winter storms in the Maritimes are just some of the recent climate events that are affecting ecosystems, animal migration and crop growing cycles.
There are various factors affecting Earth’s climate. Most scientists agree that the rise in temperature over the past 100 years is mainly caused by human activities. In particular, the rise in heat is mostly being caused by greenhouse gases released from the burning of fossil fuels. Gases like carbon dioxide and methane are added to the atmosphere, acting like a blanket that’s trapping in more heat from the sun.