This project is especially timely since the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as the 2015 Paris Climate Summit. The purpose of this event is achieving a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. As a result of this convention, a landmark agreement was reached on December 12, 2015, charting a new course in the 2-decade old global climate effort. 195 countries reached a history making agreement to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert the most dire effects of climate change. This groundbreaking pact requires every country, large and small, to take action. To learn more, see "Understanding the Paris Climate Accord and Its Implications".
THE WORLD: The global average temperature is increasing and this warming trend has accelerated in recent decades. The warming trend occurs not only on the earth’s surface, but in the oceans as well. The changes noted cannot be explained by the natural climate variability. The scientific community now knows that climate change is the result of human activity, such as burning fossil fuels for electricity and transportation.
While other things may contribute, we know that human activities have caused climate change by adding carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. These gases are referred to as greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases contribute to the “enhanced greenhouse effect”, which causes the climate to change more rapidly than is natural.
Between rising sea levels and greater precipitation, more areas than ever are at high risk of flooding.
Endangered species of plants, animals, insects–many in our own backyards–are threatened and face extinction.
A warming climate could lead to more widespread uncontrolled fires.
Global as well as American agriculture could be significantly harmed by increases in temperature.
Humans are the major contributor. Climate change is correlated with carbon emissions into the atmosphere, which is largely due to the burning of fossil fuels.
As the global climate gets warmer, species that are unable to survive in higher temperatures will need to migrate north or face extinction. Those less able to migrate will face extinction. This will in turn force the animals that depend on these plants for food and/ or habitat to migrate or face extinction as well. Since many plants and animals are unable to survive outside their natural habitats, our rich biodiversity throughout the world could experience significant losses due to global warming.
BIODIVERSITY: The greater the genetic diversity of the inhabitants of an area, the greater the area's ability to cope with outside stresses, such as global warming. High uncertainty in climate predictions has lead to a high uncertainty in the types of ecosystems that will prevail. This topic is currently being researched and debated by ecologists and restoration experts.
Looking for more resources for different grade levels? The CLEAN Collection is a hand-picked and rigorously reviewed collection of educational resources aligned with the Climate Literacy and Energy Literacy frameworks. The review process engages scientists and educators in vetting each resource for scientific accuracy, pedagogic effectiveness and useability.
The Climate Reality Project, founded by Nobel Laureate and former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore in 2006. "The Climate Reality Project is a diverse group of passionate individuals who have come together to help solve the greatest challenge of our time, and are committed to building a better future together".