Climate Change: Winners and Losers
Lesson 1: The Greenhouse Effect
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People have a lot of
questions about climate change: What
is it? Is it real, or is it a hoax? What is causing it? What can we do
to stop it? Are we going to destroy our planet?
These are all important questions, and we will try to answer them over
the course of this unit.
It may seem strange to think about "winners" and "losers" when
discussing global climate change. Climate change is bad, right?
Actually, there is no "good" or "bad" in the natural world. It just is.
And like any other change, global climate change will benefit some
living things and create hardships for others.
This unit will provide an overview of global warming and climate
change. We will start by looking at how Earth's greenhouse effect traps
heat in the atmosphere and warms our planet. Next, we will look at how
Earth's average surface temperature has changed over time. Then
we will try to predict some of the changes to expect in
the coming years due to global warming.
Finally, we will try to address
the idea of winners and losers: who will likely benefit from climate
change, and who will likely suffer because of it?
Some ground rules:
First of all, we need to get a few things out of the way right at the
start. Let's clarify some of the things that I've heard people say
global warming and climate change:
real - True. The world is
getting warmer. This is a fact, not a
theory or a hypothesis. If someone tells you that global warming is a
hoax, politely inform them that they are mistaken. Scientists know how
to use thermometers.
caused by human activity -
True, as long as you
don't say that ALL global warming or ALL climate change is caused by
activity. There are many things that affect temperatures on Earth, but the
carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) that we are putting into
the atmosphere is the main
reason that average temperatures around the globe are rising.
will destroy our planet -
False. No it won't. Earth will still be here long after we humans are
>>>Claim: We have
stop climate change -
Unfortunately, we can't. Much of the
carbon dioxide that
we put into the atmosphere today will still be in our air 30-40 years
from now; some will remain for centuries. All of it contributes to the
greenhouse effect. Climate change is coming, and it is largely due to
human activity. But
a lot of the decisions that we make in the next few
years can affect how extreme and how rapid the coming climate changes
So, being that climate
change is coming whether we like it or
not--whether we "believe" in it or not--let's learn as much about it as
we can. Then maybe we can make some decisions about what to do about it
and how to prepare for it.
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