Global Warming: Can We Change the Climate?

It may seem hard to believe that people can actually change the Earth's climate. But scientists think that the things people do that send greenhouse gases into the air are making our planet warmer.

Once, all climate changes occurred naturally. However, during the Industrial Revolution, we began altering our climate and environment through agricultural and industrial practices. The Industrial Revolution was a time when people began using machines to make life easier. It started more than 200 years ago and changed the way humans live. Before the Industrial Revolution, human activity released very few gases into the atmosphere, but now through population growth, fossil fuel burning, and deforestation, we are affecting the mixture of gases in the atmosphere.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the need for energy to run machines has steadily increased. Some energy, like the energy you need to do your homework, comes from the food you eat. But other energy, like the energy that makes cars run and much of the energy used to light and heat our homes, comes from fuels like coal and oil - fossil fuels. Burning these fuels releases greenhouse gases.

When Do You Send Greenhouse Gases into the Air?
Whenever you ...

  • Watch TV
  • Use the Air Conditioner
  • Turn on a Light
  • Use a Hair Dryer
  • Ride in a Car
  • Play a Video Game
  • Listen to a Stereo
  • Wash or Dry Clothes
  • Use a Dish Washer
  • Microwave a Meal
... you are helping to send greenhouse gas into the air.

To perform many of these functions, you need to use electricity. Electricity comes from power plants. Most power plants use coal, oil, and gas to make electricity. Burning coal and oil produces greenhouse gases.

Other Things Send Greenhouse Gases into the Air
The trash that we send to landfills produces a greenhouse gas called methane. Methane is also produced by the animals we raise for dairy and meat products and when we take coal out of the ground. Whenever we drive or ride in a car, we are adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. And, when factories make the things that we buy and use everyday, they too are sending greenhouse gases into the air.

More on Global Warming & Environmental Science

Information provided by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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