Lesson Plan - Get It!
Just a short while ago, a resounding question among Earth's citizens might have been, "What is global climate change?" However, there are very few people now asking what it is.
Newspapers, magazines, web articles, and discussion forums have all brought global climate change (or global warming) into the headlines, but how big of a deal is it really? Does it warrant all the attention it is getting from the media, politicians, environmentalists, and government agencies? Why is there so much controversy surrounding it?
Let's begin with some basic information that most scientists — and even some common citizens — understand.
The Earth's climate can change.
Before you continue, if you missed or need to review the previous Related Lessons in our Mysteries of Geology series, you can find them in the right-hand sidebar.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), climate refers to rainfall, wind, temperature, and other conditions in a given area over the long-term and over an entire region (NASA Climate Kids).
From that definition, you could surmise global climate change refers to a change in long-term climate conditions across the whole planet. Global warming then refers specifically to a rise in temperature across the entire planet over a long-term period. For the sake of keeping things simple — and in the currently popular verbiage — this lesson will refer to global climate change, since it is inclusive of both positive and negative changes in rainfall, wind, temperature, and other conditions.
- What impacts the earth's climate?
This is where the issue of global climate change becomes a bit complicated and controversial. Many scientists, politicians, and concerned citizens contend the most recent trend in the global climate change, warming, is the direct result of humankind's impact on the environment, and have termed this as anthropogenic global warming . Others contend that if you examine Earth's history, a natural cycle of climatic heating and cooling is evident; thus, the current pattern of global warming stems from nature itself.
It will help you to have a thorough understanding of the what scientists refer to as the greenhouse effect. This The Greenhouse Effect video from NASA Earth Observatory will teach you about the process that keeps Earth warm:
Continue on to the Got It? section to examine two different responses to this situation.