Global warming is hurting the Earth, but there is good news
Hello, and welcome to Here's the Scoop -- the new version of Kids Ink. My own innate curiosity about our world -- from plants and animals to humans, technology and even things unseen -- makes this column a great excuse to do one of my favorite things: research!
As an author and former newspaper reporter, I'm no stranger to investigating a variety of topics. My goal is to use this column to educate, inspire, inform and encourage. Huge thanks to The Daily Herald for this opportunity.
Now, "Here's the Scoop" about me: I'm the author of three young adult novels, including the just-released "Shards of Light," and have also written a children's poetry book that features my wildlife photography.
And I work for the Schaumburg Township District Library -- the perfect place to find answers to your questions.
Sixth-grader Owen loves to garden and knows that weather has a big impact on flora and fauna. After his session at the Bloomingdale School of Music, Owen asked how global warming affects weather and, subsequently, his vegetable garden.
First, it's important to understand that global warming is a rise in the Earth's average surface temperature worldwide. This started happening slowly more than 100 years ago, but in the 1980s, the pace kicked up -- a lot -- for two reasons. People started using more fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, to power machinery and cars and to make certain types of plastic. They also began using chemicals known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
In different ways, fossil fuels and CFCs trap heat, which has a powerful impact on weather. Additionally, CFCs damage our planet's protective ozone layer, which absorbs the sun's ultraviolet rays so they don't reach Earth. The good news? Many countries have banned CFCs. The bad news? They will linger in the atmosphere for years.
What does all this mean in terms of weather?
Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say the average temperature could rise 2.5 to 10 degrees over the next century. The effect on weather will depend on whether you're living in the Rocky Mountains, the Amazon rainforest, or on a glacier in Alaska.
In some places, winter will produce more snowstorms, but will end a little sooner, resulting in a longer growing season. In summer, we can expect droughts, intense heat waves, and powerful storms that will cause flooding. These conditions can result in severe damage to crops, including backyard veggie gardens, experts say.
Global warming has also increased the length and strength of hurricanes, which scientists predict will continue to worsen.
Yikes -- that's a pretty gloomy picture.
But there's a little silver lining in all of this: politicians, scientists, environmental groups, and even car manufacturers are taking steps to reverse the damage that caused global warming, and those steps have resulted in positive changes.
Earth's ozone layer is slowly starting to heal, according to a United Nations report that said the ozone over the Northern Hemisphere should be repaired in the 2030s, and the one over the Antarctic could be back to normal in the 2060s.
Protecting our planet won't be easy, but everyone, from kids to grandmas, can help restore the health of our precious Earth.
• Resources: Understanding Global Warming, by Rebecca L. Johnson; Climate.nasa.gov
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What can you do?
One of the best ways to help prevent global warming is to use fewer fossil fuels. Here's how you can help:
• Use paper bags instead of plastic
• Walk or ride a bike instead of riding in a car
• Use less hot water
• Turn off lights when you leave a room
• Plant a tree
• Recycle everything you can