Our Climate

Hello and welcome to this interactive lesson!

I’m sure most of you already know something about climate change, so if you’re working together with your class mates why don’t you put your hand up and share what you already know with the class.

If you don’t feel like doing that, just write down something you know and see if you were right by working through the lesson!

 

Okay! There’s a short video about Climate Change just below, let’s get started by watching that.

When you're ready, click the 'Start Course' button to begin.

 

 

Greenhouse Effect

What is the Greenhouse Effect?

The Greenhouse Effect and Greenhouse Gases

When people talk about Climate Change they often mention the Greenhouse Effect and Greenhouse Gases. This is because the Greenhouse Effect is the underlying cause of Climate Change and Greenhouses Gases are what cause the Greenhouse Effect.

The two most common greenhouse gases are:

Carbon Dioxide  - CO2
Carbon Dioxide is the most common Greenhouse Gas. It is a common result of burning fossil fuels, like petrol in a car or coal in a power plant. 

Eventually, trees and ocean plants filter Carbon Dioxide out of the atmosphere as they grow, but humans have been making too much of it for the plants to keep up. Now huge amounts (9.995 gigatonnes of Carbon dioxide was put into the atmosphere in 2010) of Carbon Dioxide is floating around in the atmosphere trapping heat.

Methane - CH4
There is much less Methane being produced by humans, but it can trap as much as 100 times the heat that Carbon Dioxide can.

The Greenhouse Effect
The Greenhouse Effect is what happens when these gases float around in our atmosphere. When heat from the Sun reaches Earth, some of it is reflected back into space and some is absorbed by the air, ground and oceans.

The problem is when more Greenhouse gases are in the atmosphere, less heat gets reflected back into space and more stays around, because the Greenhouse Gases act as insulation.

Think of this example. If you are making a cup of tea and you pour the boiling water into a mug, and leave it for 15 minutes the mug will be fairly cool. But if you pour the boiling water into a thermal flask with insulation inside of it, the water will stay hot for a lot longer.


Scroll over the image below for more information on how the Greenhouse Effect works.


Which is the most potent Greenhouse Gas?

Select the image of the Greenhouse Gas that is able to trap more heat.

Match these sentences!

  • The most common source of Carbon Dioxide is...
    Burning Fossil Fules
  • The Greenhouse Effect is an example of...
    Insulation
  • Another way heat is reflected into space is...
    Ice

Climate and Weather

Climate or Weather?

Climate or Weather?

An important thing to know when learning about Climate Change is the difference between Climate and Weather.

Climate means the long term, predictable patterns that set the general environmental conditions of an area. Like if an area is tropical or temperate.

Weather is the less predictable, day to day changes in the environmental conditions. Like rain or wind.

A good way to think about it is the way a person's personality is different to their mood that day. For example your teacher could be a very nice person, but still sometimes get grumpy.

 It's when people get the long term changes of the climate mixed up with short term changes in weather that confusion happens and some people deny Climate Change is even happening. 


Are these statments True or False?

Remember! 

If you need some help you can look at the reminders below....

Climate

Long term patterns in the atmospheric conditions of an area.

Weather

Day to day changes in the atmospheric coditions of an area.

  • A heat wave is an example of weather.
  • Decreasing yearly rain fall is an example of weather.
  • Central Australia has an arid climate.

What are the effects of climate change?

So why is this a problem?

Effects of Climate Change

Now you've read a little about what causes climate change and why it's different to just some bad weather, let look at why it's such a Big problem.

Below are some of the main problems that are caused by climate change, and what they'll mean for you.

Rising Temperatures

The main effect of Climate Change or 'Global Warming' as it is sometimes called is global temperature increase. The world gets hotter.

In 2015, leaders and scientists from countries all around the world had a meeting in Paris to talk about how the world was going to deal with climate change. They agreed that the world warming more than 2 °C would be a disaster.

Now  2 °C doesn't sound like very much, it's true. But that's a Worldwide increase of average temperatures, which mean some places around the world - Especially Australia - will get much hotter.

A rise of  2 °C will also make the problems below much worse.

Drought

Droughts happen all around the world already and they're a big problem for farmers especially. But if Climate Change continues to get worse, droughts will happen more often, last longer and be more intense.

Having worse droughts will make it harder for farmers to produce the food we need to survive.

Extreme Weather

You already know there's a difference between climate and weather, but they are still very much linked.

A warmer climate will make cyclones and storms more common, bigger and more dangerous. 

Other weather effects like heat waves will also become more common and intense.

Melting Ice

Of all the fresh water on Earth, 68.7% is stored in ice and glaciers. When that melts it flows into the ocean and causes all sorts of problems.

The sea level will rise. Some small island nations are already starting to be flooded by the rising ocean and if it continues most coastal cities around the world will underwater.

Currents will be disrupted. You may have heard of the gulf stream, it's a current in the Atlantic ocean that brings warm water from the south up into the North Atlantic. It's a big reason why places like England parts of North America are not covered in ice. If that current is stopped, those places will freeze.

Ocean Acidification

Along with making the planet warmer, C02 emissions are eventually absorbed by the ocean. Which makes the ocean water more acidic. This makes it hard for animals like crabs and clams to grow their shells, which means there's less food for bigger fish. So a small increase in ocean acidity has big consequences for the entire ecosystem. 

Ocean acidification and warmer waters cause coral bleaching, which is the main reason coral reefs are expected to be extinct by 2100.

What will become more common as climate change gets worse?

Select all the options you think are correct.

  • Storms
  • Drought
  • Rainfall
  • Coral Bleaching
  • Falling sea levels.

Scientists and world leaders agree that the climate warming by this many degrees would be disaster...

  • 2°C
  • 3°C
  • 1°C

Clean Energy

Solar

Solar Energy Technology 

Solar energy technology converts sunlight directly into electricity using photovoltaic (PV) cells. Solar cells can be found on rooftops, in large-scale solar farms, even on satellites orbiting Earth.  

Solar cells have the advantage of being adaptable, quiet and producing zero emissions. But they only work during the day!

Recent developments have made the solar technology much more efficient at producing energy, and soon we may even be able to make solar cell paint!  

Solar panels use what sort of 'cells' to generate electricity?

  • Photovoltaic
  • Photosolaric
  • Solarvoltaic

Wind

Wind Energy Technology 

Humans have harnessed the power of the wind for thousands of years, from windmills for grinding grain to sails on ships. But now we are able to use the same techniques to generate power! Wind turbines use the power of the wind to spin a turbine which generates electricity.

This technology produces zero emissions, but some people have concerns about the health impacts of living near a wind farm, because of the noise they make. 

Wind Turbines use the same techniques as windmills.

  • False
  • True

Geothermal

Geothermal Energy 

Geothermal energy is the heat that can be found beneath the Earth's surface, the same heat that makes volcanoes erupt! To generate electricity with this heat, water is pumped down into fractures in the hot rock and the steam that is produced is used to spin a turbine.

Again, this technology does not produce any emissions but it has the disadvantage that not all regions have suitable geology.


Geothermal technology harnesses the same heat that makes volcanoes erupt.

  • True
  • False

Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric 

Hydroelectric energy is generated by damming a river and using gravity to pour water over a turbine, generating electricity.

While this does not create any emissions, damming rivers can have serious impacts on local ecosystems.

Hydroelectric power stations use what to pour water over turbines?

  • Pumps
  • Heat
  • Gravaity

Energy Efficiency Technologies and Energy Storage

Energy Efficiency & Storage

There are lots of options for generating clean energy, but we all need to think about how we use it once we have it. Fortunately, there are lots of options for using electricity efficiently.

Some of these are simple, like turning lights off in empty rooms or using LED bulbs. Setting your air conditioning to 25°C or have shorter showers so you use less hot water.

Some are a little more complicated. Having properly insulated houses or driving a more efficient car when you grow up is something you can think about.

Energy Storage

Because people use more energy at night, there's a surplus of energy being generated during the day. Recent improvements in battery technology mean it's possible for people to store their own power at home, or like South Australia store an entire state's power for use later on! 

Let's recap!

  • Solar energy is generated from...
    Sunlight.
  • Some people are concerned about wind farms because...
    They can be noisy.
  • Energy Storage is important because...
    Most electricity use happens at night.
  • Geothermal technology generates electricity using....
    Heat from under the Earth.
  • A problem with hydroelectric power stations is...
    Damming a river has environmental impacts.
  • A simple way to reduce power usage is...
    Install LED light bulbs.

So what happens next?

So what happens next?

So what's next?

Now that you know a little more about climate change, its causes and effects and ways that our impact on the planet can be reduced, let's take a look at how you can reduce your Carbon Footprint.

Your carbon footprint is the measurement of how much carbon your lifestyle produces. Factors like much you drive, how big your house is and what sort of diet you eat all contribute to your carbon footprint. Click on the link below to find out what your's is!

Once you know what your carbon footprint is, think about the answers you gave and try to figure out some small changes you could make to give the planet a helping hand.