Climate change literacy
About Lesson

What is Climate Change?

Climate change is a long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, for example the ice ages that occurred due to the amount of sunlight that was received by the Arctic region during summer. But since the late 1800s, human activities started to be the main driver of climate change¹. Why? 


© 2023 Zuzanna Gawron.
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Large quantities of fossil fuels, like coal, oil, and natural gas, started to be burned to power machines, heat and electricity generation. This allowed the creation of new technologies and consequently elevated standards of living around the world; at least in the richest countries! But simultaneously, large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases (such as methane) are sent into the atmosphere.
These gases are commonly referred to as greenhouse gases, as they prevent some heat to escape from the Earth to space. This is a natural phenomenon, but human activities have added so much of these greenhouse gases, that our atmosphere is getting too hot.

“Data shows us that there is now more CO2 in our atmosphere than at any point in at least the past 800 000 years”.²

In fact, these gases are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming.

And this has tragic consequences. Some of them are quite unexpected, while others we already know, for instance: sea level rise, heat and humidity, destructive storms, ocean acidification.