Some thermal energy from the Earth’s surface escapes into space. If too much thermal energy escaped, the planet would be very cold. However some gases in the atmosphere, called greenhouse gases, trap escaping thermal energy. This causes some of the thermal energy to pass back to the surface. This is called the greenhouse effect, and it keeps our planet warm. Carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas.
Humans burn fossil fuels to power cars and other machines, to generate electricity, and to keep buildings warm. Waste gases are released during combustion, including carbon dioxide. As the human population increases, more fuel is used, and more carbon dioxide is released.
Extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases the greenhouse effect. More thermal energy is trapped by the atmosphere, causing the planet to become warmer than it would be naturally. This increase in the Earth’s temperature is called global warming.
The majority of climate scientists agree that there is a link between the increasing levels of carbon dioxide and the increasing temperatures. Global warming is having an effect on the world’s climates.
The weather includes the wind, sunshine and rain you see from day to day. The climate is the sort of weather seen over years and decades. Climate change and its effects as a result of global warming includes: