Warning sign of carbon dioxide and climate change
Carbon dioxide is the main cause of climate change.

Climate Change

The Earth's climate has changed many times over the course of its history. We've had ice ages and warm periods in the past, but this time it's different. The current rate of global warming is unprecedented - and it's caused by us humans.

It's all down to the greenhouse effect. When we burn fossil fuels they emit carbon dioxide which becomes part of our atmosphere. This traps heat like a blanket, warming the planet. The heat causes more water vapour to enter the air, another greenhouse gas, and the effect escalates.

Usually, nature's carbon cycle would remove the extra carbon dioxide. But we've added so much of the gas to the air that nature can't keep up. However, there are ways we can fight global warming. Have a go at this quiz and see if you know the causes of climate change and the ways we can tackle it.

1.
Global warming is real. Since records began in 1880, the average temperature has risen by how many degrees?
0.8o Celsius
1.8o Celsius
2.8o Celsius
3.8o Celsius
That doesn’t sound like much, until you realise that it's gone up 0.5o over the last 40 years. By the end of this century, scientists believe it will be 4o warmer than it is now
2.
As the planet warms up, we'll see some worrying events. Which of the following will happen?
The Arctic will lose its ice
The sea-levels will rise
There will be more extreme weather
All of the above
And that’s not all - we also expect to see more droughts, famines, and mass movement of people. There might even be wars fought over increasingly scant resources
3.
Global warming is caused by gasses such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, and methane. What do we call these?
Garden shed gasses
General gasses
Greenhouse gasses
Ghostly gasses
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 45% since the Industrial Revolution - coincidence? I don't think so!
4.
Some scientists (3% of them) deny that humans are responsible for climate change. Why?
Because the world is getting cooler
Because Earth's climate has changed many times in the past
Because it's natural processes that are producing carbon dioxide
Because it's all part of God's plan
They are right to say that Earth’s climate has changed before due to greenhouse gasses, usually emitted by volcanoes. The difference this time is the sheer amount of pollutants and the fact that it’s us humans who are producing them
5.
The “Paris Agreement” is an attempt to force countries to cut their carbon dioxide emissions. Three countries chose not to be included: Syria, Nicaragua and which other?
Iran
The United States of America
Israel
The United Kingdom
In 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the agreement. In the past he has accused scientists of having a "political agenda" and even called climate change a "hoax”
6.
Larger countries produce the most CO2, but not necessarily the most per person. How much CO2 does each person in the UK on average emit per year?
6.5 kg
65 kg
650 kg
6.5 tonnes
We are by no means the worst offenders - Qatar produced 45 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person in 2014. But before we congratulate ourselves, let's remember that we need to cut all carbon emissions by at least 50% to stop global warming
7.
Industry is often blamed for climate change. Which sector emits the largest proportion of greenhouse gas?
Energy production
Food production
Transport
Manufacturing
31% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity and heat generation. Transport is the second worst offender and creates 15%. Manufacturing and farming both emit about 12%.
The answer is not to stop industry - rather, we must find greener ways to warm, feed and transport ourselves
8.
Between 1900 and 1990, sea-levels rose by 1.5 mm each year due to global warming. How fast are sea-levels rising now?
They are not rising anymore
They are rising by 2 mm per year
They are rising by 3.4 mm per year
They are rising by 4.8 mm per year
Unless things change soon, the sea will have risen by a further 111 centimetres by the year 2100. That's enough to drown some low-level islands and to alter some coastlines
9.
Currently, there are 406 ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What is a “safe” amount?
650 ppm
550 ppm
450 ppm
350 ppm
Before the Industrial Revolution, there were approximately 278 ppm of carbon dioxide. The burning of fossil fuels is the obvious connection
10.
What can you do to help fight climate change?
Turn down the temperature on your central heating
Insulate your home
Use energy-efficient appliances
All of the above
World governments can make the biggest difference, but we can all do our bit to help save the planet
Author:  Graeme Haw

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