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Climate Change: What Is It and How Does It Affect You?

April 28, 2023

The seasons of the year: spring, summer, fall and winter, are all important in their own ways. They help our food to grow, our plants and animals to feel nourished and in rhythm with nature and even help us (hello, snow days and summer break!). The yearly changes we experience here in Indiana and globally make up our Earth’s climate. And we are lucky indeed that our Earth has a pretty human-friendly one.  

However, you may have heard that our planet’s climate is in trouble. The good news? You are a smart kid reading this article and you can do something about it. But first we need to learn why climate is important and what it means when scientists use the term “climate change.” 

What is climate?

Climate refers to weather patterns over an extended period. Climate usually remains very steady for hundreds of years or more. Here in Indiana, some characteristics of our climate include snow during the winter, hot sunny summer days, and soaking rains in spring. In other places, such as Florida, however, the climate is different, with warmth almost all year round. Climate varies all over the globe and depends on many factors. 

What is climate change?

Climate change refers to the rising in our Earth’s average temperature. It is only rising by a few degrees, which may lead you to wonder what all the fuss is about. But that measly 1.8 degrees F over the past hundred years is leading to some big problems for many of our plant, animal, and human friends, not to mention the planet itself.  

Humans are responsible for global warming 

Think of all the little things you do in a day that include using our Earth’s resources: plugging in your phone or iPad, riding in the car or bus to school, eating meals that include food that had to be packaged somewhere far away…that’s a lot of energy we are using powered by coal and other fossil fuels! 

All of us are contributing to global warming through our use of these fossil fuels that power our electricity, heat and automobiles and cause a release of CO2 into the atmosphere. This, along with other greenhouse gases such as methane, traps warmth at the Earth’s surface so that it can’t escape. Thus, creating the warming of the planet.  

Why is this so bad?

When the Earth’s temperature warms, it causes the ice at the north and south poles to melt. The melting of these landmasses goes far beyond taking homes and food away from our polar bear and penguin friends. All the water that was trapped in the glaciers will be headed back out into the ocean … and that’s a lot of water! In fact, it’s enough to raise the ocean’s levels and destroy some coastal areas. It can also destroy things like forests, which provide us fresh oxygen. A decrease in our air quality could mean more diseases for us and our animal friends. 

A change in the Earth’s temperature will wreak havoc on our weather patterns. Stronger storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes, harsher droughts and shifting wind and ocean patterns are just some of the things that have scientists worried. Here in Indiana, because of our milder climate, we might not be as heavily impacted in the near future as those who live in more at-risk places on our planet, such as coastal areas, but that doesn’t mean we should do our part to help!  

I am just a kid, what can I do? 

Here is the best news … kids can do quite a bit to change the world! In fact, here are some things you can do to start helping today: 

  1. Reduce your consumption and reuse items you already have as much as possible. 
  1. Unplug appliances such as TVs, lamps, and electronics chargers when not in use. 
  1. When you visit a hotel, hang your towel back on the rack to signal to the cleaning staff that you don’t need it cleaned every time you shower. 
  1. Dress appropriately for the weather so you can turn your heat down in the winter and the A/C down in the summer. 
  1. Eat more veggies and less meat (raising livestock causes the release of methane into the atmosphere). 
  1. Walk or bike instead of driving when you can. 
  1. Consume local and in season produce when you can. 
  1. Hang your clothes to dry when it is nice outside instead of using the dryer. 
  1. Learn as much as you can and spread the word to friends and family! 

You can be a climate warrior, just by doing these simple things. Best of all? What is good for our planet and our climate is also good for YOU! If you want more information about climate change and how you can help the Earth, check out The Climate Reality Project: Kids!