Our planet’s climate emergency2021-02-04T07:39:56+00:00

Tiki’s guide to the climate emergency

Have you heard about how the world’s getting hotter? Most people say it is. A few say it isn’t. Who’s right? And does it matter? How will it affect you and your friends?

Let’s start with the world’s ice sheets. How much ice is melting right now globally?

Good news but…

At the United Nations climate conference (COP 21) in Paris on 12 December 2015, the world’s nations made history. At long last, they had reached a fair deal to limit climate change. Things were looking good, at last. But not for long!


Hey people!

You have got to quit using carbon-based fuels starting now. But you aren’t doing, so there’s little chance of keeping global temperatures within the 1.5°C limit, set out as an important goal in the 2015 Paris conference. In fact, a recent report from the IPCC (October 2018) shows that global temperatures are on course for over 3°C. The message is very clear: quit using carbon-based fuels starting now so that by 2050, there is no more carbon pollution of our planet’s atmosphere.

What is the IPCC?
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up in 1988 to provide the world’s governments with information about how to tackle climate change. It has 195 members. For the assessment reports, IPCC scientists volunteer their time to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year.

The evidence for climate change is now overwhelming. So why do some people still deny climate change? Find out here

This is where you kids come in. You don’t have to sit idly by, watching today’s adults ignoring the problem (or even denying that it exists). There are lots of things you can do to make sure that the world’s politicians and business leaders take serious action so that you will have a planet fit for humans and all other life forms when you are grown up. Find out what you can do at the end of this guide.

Finding your way around my Climate Change Guide

You can jump to any part that interests you by clicking on the tabs in the section below

Climate is a sort of huge ‘machine’. What’s called ‘weather’ is just a small bit of this machine which you and I notice: you know, a tornado, a blizzard, a hurricane , very hot weather or very cold weather. And I bet you know what drives this machine, don’t you? Yes, it’s the sun. Without the sun, there would be no climate, no weather, no people, no penguins, no life. So what’s the difference between climate and weather? This short video helps explain.

The sun warms the air and hot air rises bringing with it moisture from the sea. As the moist air rises, it expands. This makes it cooler and so any moisture in the air condenses to make clouds.

The sun also warms the seas and oceans which makes huge currents of water — a little like winds, but inside the ocean. One of these called the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic Ocean. This keeps countries in Northern Europe warm even though they are nearer the North Pole than the equator. Another huge current — this time a cold current — affects Chile and Perú in South America. This is called the Humboldt current. It brings lots of food for fish to eat which once made the Peruvian fishing industry the biggest in the world. It also means that many seabirds can live there… including penguins. All these things — the oceans, the atmosphere, the hot and the cold parts of the planet, deserts, rainforest — all depend upon climate and upon the sun.

What is condensation?

The air in the atmosphere contains water vapour which you can’t see. When the air cools to what is called the dewpoint, the water vapour becomes tiny droplets of liquid. It’s called ‘condensation’ and can only take place round ‘condensation nuclei’, tiny particles such as dust. As they get carried higher by air currents, the droplets get colder and absorb still more water from the humid air around them. The droplets get bigger and it is these that forms clouds which, of course, you can see.

What are hurricanes?

Hurricanes are large rotating storms which bring heavy
rains, floods and winds over 155mph in the worst (category 5) ones. They’re
common in the Caribbean region where they occur in a ‘season’ which peaks
in September. They’re also common in other parts of the world wherever there
are warm seas. These storms are also called ‘tropical cyclones’ or ‘typhoons’.

A tornado is a violent rotating thunderstorm. Wind speeds may reach 300mph in the narrow funnel which descends from the clouds and causes a trail of destruction on the ground. Although tornadoes can happen anywhere, they are commonest in the USA which has a ‘tornado season’ in early Spring. Most occur in the midwestern and south central states, sometimes called ‘tornado alley’.

Why rainforests are so important

Rainforests like those of the Amazon and Congo are doubly important. Why? Because they ‘make’ their own climate. The trees soak up rain and evaporate moisture through their leaves to form clouds… you know the rest. They’re important for many reasons, one of which is that if people burn them or cut them all down, the land that’s left is usually poor and the whole climate can change to much hotter and drier. This could happen within a few years because of all the logging and burning that people are doing.

The sun is getting hotter. It is also incredibly old — about 4,500 million years old! One day it will blow up but that won’t be for another 4,000 million years or so. But the Earth’s climate seems to be heating up much much faster than can be explained by the sun making more heat. And the reason is you people and your machines

Almost all machines use oil, gas or coal. All of them produce pollution — you know, the smelly stuff that comes out of car exhaust pipes and factory chimneys, that sort of thing. Much of this is a gas you can’t see called carbon dioxide (CO2). It’s this gas which seems to be the main cause of the trouble.

Pandora’s carbon box

Pandora was a woman who figured in one of the Greek myths. In the myth, the gods gave her a mysterious box. They’d put something nasty in the box and told her never to open it. But she was overcome by curiosity and opened the box. Out flew horrible stuff like plagues, sorrow and misery. She tried in vain to shut the lid but it was too late: the horrors were free.
It’s a little like that with fossil fuels. For millions of years, the planet has been tucking away its Click link for carbon dioxide in the form of coal, oil, limestone. This natural sequestering of carbon and burying it deep in the Earth’s crust has kept the climate machine in balance. Too much carbon means global warming; too little means cooling. Humans have opened the planetary Pandora’s carbon box and let out fossil fuels on a vast scale. Burning them releases the carbon they contained back into the air as carbon dioxide, CO2.

Scientists (called astronomers or cosmologists) who study the sun and stars know this because they can look at millions of other ‘suns’ (the stars) and find out what’s happened to the different types over billions of years.
It’s this heating up which scientists call ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change
A myth is a sort of fairy story. The ancient Greeks made up lots of them over 2000 years ago.

Coral reefs and limestone

Limestone is a rock formed from carbon, oxygen and calcium: calcium carbonate. Most limestone forms when the skeletons of once-living animals like coral turn into rock. When they were alive, the coral polyp animals built their skeletons out of carbon dioxide and calcium. So, like coal-forming swampy forests, they usefully take carbon dioxide out of the air (though it has to dissolve in the seawater first, which it easily does). The ancestors of today’s coral animals have been building vast coral reefs for hundreds of millions of years. These are now limestone rock. Today, as they always have, reefs make nurseries and homes for myriads of living things, so they teem with life. Many people depend on some of this life, like fish. Sadly, pollution and the warming climate are causing many of these giant reefs to die.

‘Sequester’ means to give up for safekeeping, to remove. So carbon is taken out of the ocean-land-atmosphere carbon cycle and sealed away safely.
What happens when you go into a greenhouse on a sunny day? It’s hot, isn’t it? That’s because the glass in the greenhouse traps the heat from the sun. This gas carbon dioxide does the same in the earth’s atmosphere. It acts like glass in a greenhouse, doing the same as my feathers do when I’m swimming in the very cold sea: my feathers keep me warm, the glass in the greenhouse keeps the plants inside warm, and the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases keep the planet warm. Without them, we’d freeze. Too much of them means that we boil!. Because people are burning fuels with carbon in (that’s oil, gas and coal which you use in cars, planes, power stations and so on), all this carbon gets dumped into the air, combined with the oxygen we all breathe, and so adds to our greenhouse gas problem. And the planet warms more than it should.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) isn’t the only ‘greenhouse gas’ though it is the most common. There are several others. Methane is 20-30 times more powerful at trapping heat than CO2 and there are other gases made by people which can be thousands of times more powerful.
Untitled Quiz
“The climate is an angry beast, and we are poking at it with sticks.”
Wallace Broecker

What happens next is not good news for people or penguins. The thing that bothers me is that the ice of the poles is melting. Some of it already is melting fast. The Arctic sea ice get’s less every year and the great frozen continent of Antarctica (my home) is losing ice too. Other seas, like the North Sea, are warming too. This means that fish which need colder waters have to swim north and this can have bad effects on both fishing and seabirds.

As you know, penguins like ice. Without very cold water and ice, we get too hot because, like polar bears, we’re built for cold weather. But for you people, it will be much worse.

For a start, all the ice that melts will start to fill up the oceans and make them overflow on land. And the water itself will take up more space simply because it is warmer. That will make it overflow even more onto the land:

Dr Broecker, of Columbia University, New York, USA, was the first scientist to describe the worldwide ocean ‘conveyor-belt’ currents which partly control climate. These currents ship a lot of heat from the tropics to regions like northern Europe via the Gulf Stream. Without this warmth, northern Europe would be much colder.

Penguins in distress

Adelie Penguin numbers in the Antarctic have shrunk by one third during the past 25 years. This is because there is less winter sea ice where they live.

Warming is 5 times greater than average. Since 1945, the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed about 2.5 degrees C (4.5 degrees F ). Each year’s melting season has gone up by 2 to 3 weeks in just the past 20 years.

Where is the North Sea?

This sea lies between Great Britain on the west side, and Scandinavia on the east. It’s best known these days for declining oilfields and fish stocks.

Poor bears

Polar bears depend for their food on seals. They can only hunt the seals when there is floating sea ice because the seals have breathing holes in the ice where the bears ambush them. The seals also have their pups on the ice. No ice, no seals, no polar bears.

This is called thermal expansion — warmer water takes up more space.

More sea and less land is fine for penguins and for fish, but it’s no good at all for people and other animals that live on the land. Some of the best land for growing food is also the most low-lying. That means it will be flooded first. It also happens that some of your biggest cities, like London, New Orleans and Bangkok, will get flooded too. Loads of people will go hungry and many more will have nowhere to live. This is very worrying.
The really sad thing is that it will be poor people who suffer most. I think that’s very unfair because it’s the people in rich countries who have been the cause of almost all global warming but it’s the poor who drown or starve.
What do you think?

Then there’s disease. As the world warms, nasty diseases like malaria are starting to spread because the changing climate favours the mosquito that carries the disease. air travel: bad for the planet; great for spreading diseasesAir travel is not just a cause of global warming but aids in spreading diseases very quickly just about anywhere. Someone with an illness like TB may easily pass on the disease to others during an airplane flight of a few hours. Insects like Click link for videomosquitoes which can carry disease can even ‘hitch a ride’ on flights from one country to another.

But then at the end of 2019, lots of people started to get ill in Wuhan, China. Chinese scientists quickly identified the source of the illness. It was a coronavirus, and unlike previous coronavirus outbreaks (like SARS and MERS), this one spread fast and a few months later, the World Health Organisation declared that it was a pandemic. Like many other illnesses, this virus – now known by everybody in the world as Covid-19 – has jumped species and is called a zoonotic disease. This is a particularly vicious and rapidly spreading version. It has already killed well over 2 million people around the world. Fortunately, scientists working for big pharmaceutical companies and governments around the world have rapidly come up with vaccines which are beginning to be given to people at high risk from the disease. These vaccines at present seem to be very effective but the virus, which is whisked round the world in aircraft, keeps on making mistakes as it forms new versions of itself. These are mutations and some make the virus even more infectious and possibly more deadly.

What is a zoonotic disease?
This is a type of disease which is carried by other animals such as bats. Unfortunately humans can occasionally get infections from other animals which they eat. HIV/AIDS is one such disease and Covid-19 is another.
Most of New Orleans is actually below sea level! And it did get badly flooded when hurricane Katrina hit in late August 2005.

About malaria

About 3.2 billion people – nearly half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. In 2015, there were roughly 214 million malaria cases and an estimated 438,000 malaria deaths (World Heath Organization). Most of these are in the world’s poorest countries. There are drugs for treating it but the malaria parasite (a tiny protozoan called Plasmodium) has become resistant to almost all of them. Poor people can’t afford them anyway.

TB, short for ‘tuberculosis’ spreads when infected people cough and sneeze. In 2014, TB caused over 1 million deaths. It is a very serious disease because the TB bug is highly resistant to treatment.
In fact, if you were a disease bug looking for a human to infect, an airplane cabin would be the perfect place. Inside, the passengers are sealed into a metal tube for many hours with poor ventilation. Someone with a cold, flu or worse who coughs and sneezes will be (unintentionally) blasting bugs into the air. The bugs float around and get sucked in by other nearby passengers as they breathe. The bugs think it’s great and that’s why people so often ‘pick up’ something like a cold when they fly, packed in to the plane like sardines in a can. This is how diseases like SARS and MERS were spread. There were also some cases of Ebola which made it to North America and Europe during the terrible outbreak in West Africa in 2014. If and when Bird Flu gets going, flying is going to be what transmits it all around the world in just a few days. Scary, isn’t it.

I’m afraid worse is to come: people who study earth’s climate have found that as it warms up, the weather is going to get more violent and unpredictable. Hurricanes, for example, will become more powerful — a big worry for people living in the south of the United States and in the tropical Pacific or Indian ocean areas like the Philippine islands and Bangladesh. Deserts are increasing and places like the Great Plains of America will get drier. Rain will be heavier in other parts of the world so there will be more floods. These things have already started to happen.

What is El Niño?

This is a huge climate ‘event’ during which winds and sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean go into reverse. All kinds of weird weather happens worldwide because of this, much of it very damaging. El Niño events erupt every few years and peak arond Christmas: El Niño (Spanish) means The Child (Jesus). 2015-16 has seen the biggest El Niño episode for some years. Climate change seems to be making El Niño events stronger. More on what happens

Also called typhoons or cyclones. The image is of cyclone Catarina, taken from the International Space Station. It was the first hurricane seen in the South Atlantic Ocean; March 26 2004, near Brazil (NASA).

On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines. It was one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded with wind speeds up to at 285 kilometres per hour (180 mph). Haiyan did terrible damage to several parts of South East Asia, but especially the Philippines where well over 6,000 people were killed. The animation of Typhoon Haiyan is from infrared satellite images (NOAA)

Heavy rains and serious floods have been affecting northern and eastern Europe in recent years. In the summer of 2007, Britain had the worst floods since records began. But much worse was to come. Parts of Britain have had record-breaking quantities of rain during the winter of 2015-16. Large areas have been underwater and many towns have been repeatedly flooded. This is exactly what climate change science predicts: more storms and more heavy rain.
York floods, UK, 2015 (Richard Scott)

What does El Niño do?

In normal years, strong winds (called ‘trade winds’) blow from east to west across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Among other things, this has the effect of dragging up deep, cold waters off the South American coast. At the west side of the Pacific Ocean, the waters are warm and there is plenty of rain. When an El Niño event (called El Niño Southern Oscillation or ENSO for short) happens, everything goes into reverse. This can mean serious droughts in countries like Indonesia and heavy rain and flooding in other places where it is normally dry. But El Niño affects far more than just the Pacific region. It also causes terrible drought and famine in parts of Africa. El Niño is very complex and causes disturbances and bizarre weather events over much of the planet. It usually lasts about a year, peaking in activity at around Christmas. It also releases a lot of heat into the atmosphere so 2015 was the hottest year on record.

Our planet is getting hotter rather quickly because of greenhouse gas pollution from humans. But there are some people who say it is not. Can you think who some of these might be? You guessed it! Many of the people who claim climate change is not happening are those who use lots of fuel, who make things like cars that use lots of fuel, or actually get the fuel out of the earth: that’s heavy industry, carmakers and the oilgas and coal companies. This is called ‘vested interest’. These are people who depend on other people using lots of fuel if they are to continue making money. It’s not surprising that they deny climate change. But it doesn’t make them right!

Just for the record…

Fifteen of the 16 hottest years on record have all been this century, with 2020 looking like it will be the hottest since records began The record temperatures over both land and the ocean surface  up to 2020 were accompanied by many extreme weather events such as heatwaves, flooding, severe droughts and massive wildfires throughout Australia. The Greast Barrier Reef, famous for its beautiful corals, was bdaly damaged AGAIN by hot seawater which caused bleaching and the beginning of the end for coral reefs everywhere. Over 70,000 fires burned in the Amazon rainforest which  could soon begin to give out more CO2 than it absorbs. Most of the fires were deliberate so farmers could produce more cattle to make into hamburgers, and grow feed for them.

World Meteorological Organization et al. and WWF

The case for climate change – global warming – is now beyond doubt. There is so much evidence from all over the planet. So wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone agreed to work together to stop using fossil fuels. Well it seems that they may actually do this following the agreements reached at the Paris climate conference in December 2015.

These people are often called ‘deniers’ or ‘sceptics’.

Yes, climate change is real and unfair! But now there’s some good news at last…

“Climate change… seriously threatens polar bear survival in the future”
– IUCN Director General, 2015.

The world is getting hotter. And I’m sorry to say it’s all people’s fault.

But it’s not everyone that’s doing it. Mostly it’s people in rich countries — North America, Europe and Australia. They are the ones with energy-hungry lifestyles which guzzle fossil fuels.

Life is not fair!

A child born in the United States will create thirteen times as much ecological damage over the course of his or her lifetime than a child born in Brazil
The average American will drain as many resources as 35 natives of India and consume 53 times more goods and services than someone from China
With less than 5 percent of world population, the U.S. uses one-third of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 23 percent of the coal, 27 percent of the aluminum, and 19 percent of the copper
American fossil fuel consumption is double that of the average resident of Great Britain and two and a half times that of the average Japanese
Source: Scientific American 2012

Poor people like those in most African countries, Asia and Latin America can’t afford to travel all over the place in cars and planes, they don’t have heating or air conditioning in their homes or eat fancy food. Many don’t even have anything more to live in than a one-room shack with no toilet, no kitchen, no running water. These people are not the ones causing global warming. Yet they are the ones who suffer most from climate change caused by the rich. It’s not fair, is it?

As for us other animals, we are innocent too because the only fuel we use is that which we get from our food … so what are you folks going to do about it?

Good news!

But — at last — people are starting to take serious action on climate change…

In 1988, a group of scientists from many nations began working together to examine the evidence for climate change and make careful suggestions to the world’s governments as to what they could do about it. This group is called the IPCC.

IPCC scientists have studied the climate all around the world. They’ve known for many years that climate change really is happening. They knew that it would be bad for people and much other life. And as more evidence piled in, it became obvious that it is mostly due to humans and their pollution of the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. So way back in 1992, most of the world’s countries got together at a United Nations (UN) conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This was called the Earth Summit. Here everyone agreed to start a series of conferences to try and get a worldwide agreement to slow climate change. Most countries soon joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change..

Kyoto: a lot of hot air?  Back in 1997, 192 countries in the world came together in a big conference at Kyoto in Japan. Here they began to try and agree what to do about climate change. Lots of promises were made but countries haven’t been very good at carrying them out. Many people consider Kyoto was a failure. Pollution by greenhouse gases continued to climb.

Since then, the evidence for change has become stronger and stronger. The special computer ‘climate models’ which IPCC scientists had used to predict what would happen are better than ever. The ice sheets in both the Arctic and the Antarctic are melting, in some cases very fast. Sea levels are rising. Temperatures are rising, especially in the Arctic and Antarctic. Glaciers on other mountains of the world are melting very fast — especially in the tropics. Animals and plants which like cooler conditions are moving away from the overheated tropics towards the poles. Storms are getting stronger, with damaging winds and heavy rain causing serious flooding. All these things are predicted by climate models. And really sadly, most of the world’s coral reefs, including the Australian Great Barrier Reef, are dying because of unusually hot seas.

“Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.”
IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report: Fifth Assessment Report

The COP 21 Paris Agreement

Since Kyoto, there have been more climate conferences. The most important of these conferences took place in Paris, France, at the end of 2015 (COP 21). At last, everyone from all the 195 countries attending the conference agreed that NOW is the time to take climate change seriously, so they set up a system to do it. The aim is to keep the global temperature rise to below 2°C.

This is the first time there has been general agreement about what to do and how to do it. Well done humans, I say! It’s called the Paris Agreement. But it won’t be easy because the entire global economy is hooked on fossil fuels. So the road ahead may be rocky but it is passable. It has to be!

So now it’s up to you humans to undo the damage that has been done to the Earth’s climate system by burning fossil fuels. Obviously this hasn’t been done by you kids but unfortunately, it is you – your generation – which will have to slam on the fossil fuel brakes hard or live with a wild climate which will be very unpleasant indeed for much of life on Earth, especially human life… not to mention penguins and polar bears! But I think you humans are incredibly clever and resourceful, and I think you will solve the problems ahead. The next really important UN Climate Change Conference (Conference of the Parties, COP 26) — because of the COVID-19 virus pandemic — has been postponed for a whole year. Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, will host this in November 2021.

At the end of this guide, you should find 4 quizzes about global warming.

Now try using this clever tool to see how you would choose to reduce CO2 emissions to 20 per cent of 1990 levels. It’s fun to use and gives you an idea of the difficult choices you people have to make to avoid dangerous climate change.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! Check out what you and your friends, family and schools can do. You CAN make things better. See below for things YOU can do… !

What is the IPCC?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It was set up by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988. The idea was to provide the world with a clear, up-to-date scientific view on climate change. There are 195 countries which are members of the IPCC. The latest IPCC view on the state of the world’s climate is the Fifth Assessment Report (2014)

What is the UNFCCC?

This is an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The idea is that the world’s nations (called ‘the Parties’) come together to work out what they can do to limit climate change and to help poor nations which are already suffering some of the worst effects. The UNFCC organises international conferences – called Conferences of the Parties (COP). The latest of these, COP 21, took place in Paris, France, in late 2015.

The Paris Agreement at COP 21

The 195 countries attending the conference agreed to a global pact, the Paris Agreement. The aim is to reduce their carbon output (= carbon emissions = atmospheric carbon pollution) “as soon as possible” and to do their best to keep global warming “to well below 2 degrees C”. Each country that signs up to the agreement has to set a target for emission reduction, but the amount will be voluntary. There is no means to force any country to comply. So the agreement depends more on goodwill and a general agreement that global climate change is happening. People are all in this together and so have to work together to preserve climate stability. Whether this will work remains to be seen and may depend upon you kids, as you get older, hassling your country’s governments and making sure they are sticking to their commitments. It’s not going to be easy!

What does this road ahead involve?

There has to be a drastic cut in carbon emissions by everyone everywhere to try and stabilise the climate. There also has to be adaptation and mitigation. ‘Adaptation’ means that people will have to change their lifestyles and adapt to the changing climate. ‘Mitigation’ means that help will have to be given by rich countries to poor countries whose peoples are being harmed by the changing climate

Climate change links and resources

There are loads of places to visit so I’ve just selected a few which I like the best. And please avoid disappointment and don’t send me more links, no matter how useful you think they are. Lots of people do but I simply don’t have time to deal with them. Sorry!

The Climate Reality Project – working to accelerate the global shift from the dirty fossil fuels driving climate change to renewables so we can power our lives and economies without destroying our planet. And you can help!

Global Weirding with Katharine Hayhoe – Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist and associate professor of political science at Texas Tech University, where she is director of the Climate Science Center. She introduces you to climate change and answers all the questions in a new series of easy-to-understand videos. Scroll down to see them all.

350.org – Standing up to the fossil fuel industry to stop all new coal, oil and gas projects and build clean energy for all. You can join up wherever you are in the world

Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot make short film on climate crisis

Sustainable Energy – without the hot air by David MacKay FRS

NASA’s Climate Kids Really cool site! There’s even a climate time machine

National Center for Science Education’s climate change education initiative defends and supports the teaching of climate change in schools

Carbon Brief fact-checked stories about climate science online and in the press. It gives you briefings on the people and organisations talking about climate change, and produces background materials on science issues and news stories.

What You Can Do About Global Warming The fossil fuel industry continues to try to confuse the public about the real science of climate change. But the Union of Concerned Scientists is fighting back.

Climate change guide: A infographic guide from the UK Meteorological Office looking at the facts, impacts and history of climate change.

Climate Mama is about what other Mama’s and Papa’s are doing to help make the world a better place by tackling climate change

Climate Change Wildlife and Wildlands Toolkit This free tool helps teachers tell their students about individual climates and how they are affected by global warming. It’s also to inspire kids to take part in doing something about climate change themselves.

Flying off to a warmer climate? This is one of my favourites! Find out how much fuel you use and pollution you create when you fly in an aeroplane.

Green Living: A Family Guide to Going Green

Sustainability Hub: Climate change videos for kids

Climate Ark – Climate Change Portal A huge amount of information here with news which is right up-to-date.

ClimatePrediction.net Now this really is interesting. Here you can join in an experiment to help forecast the climate. All you need is a computer.

Friends of the Earth What you can do .

Greenpeace International on climate change and renewable energy,


Climate Change Worksheets for Kids (in Spanish): Cambio Climático para Niños, en Hojas de ejercicios

Twelve Really Important Things you can do to help stop global warming

Get active. Pester politicians. Make a fuss!2020-06-18T13:57:45+00:00

Hey! We’ve got to do something!

Don’t worry, you can do lots

Talk with your friends, your teachers and your parents about what you could do. For a start, you could write to or call your country’s politicians telling them that you’re worried about climate change and why. If enough people make a fuss, they have to do something.

And now, this ‘something’ is clear because of the 2015 COP 21 Paris Agreement. So do ask what your government is doing to comply with this historic agreement. Nobody wants their country to be ‘named and shamed’ because they aren’t doing what they have agreed to do. And carbon pollution really is an international problem so every one of the world’s 195 countries needs to ‘pull its weight’ and work together with all the others to tackle climate change and its damaging effects. Just think: if you said (in your own words if possible) something like that to your political representative. They wouldn’t just be impressed; they’d be gobsmacked!… especially if you were, like, young — say only 11 or 12!! [scroll down for more…]

How do you contact your government?

If you are lucky enough to live in a democratic country, you will have an elected person you can find and talk to. Here are some examples of how to find who your representative is:

  • If you live in the USA, you can find out who to contact at USA.gov.
  • For India, click here.
  • For the UK, WriteToThem tells you who your representative is.
  • For Australia, click here.
  • For Canada, click here.
Know your stuff2020-06-03T12:08:09+00:00

Know what damage humans are doing and get to be an expert!  It’s not much use trying to change something if you’re part of the problem or you don’t understand what it’s all about!
Why not start by finding out Carbon Footprint what your carbon footprint is with WWF’s Footprint Calculator? What's a carbon footprint ?

What’s a Carbon Footprint?

Sounds a bit messy, doesn’t it. And it is! It’s a way to find out how much damaging carbon pollution you yourself – and your family – are causing. The bigger your footprint, the worse the damage.

Kick the car habit2020-06-18T14:04:13+00:00

Why drive when you can walk?! If your family has a car, see if you can get them to use it less. Next time they’re thinking about buying a new(er) car, think electric. They don’t spew out any exhaust.
And yes, I do understand that because of the design of so many modern cities – all based around cars – you simply can’t walk to school or anywhere else.  This is sad and has to change. Many European cities, particularly in Holland and Denmark, give priority to bicycles and even stop cars from entering certain parts of cities completely. Now that’s a great idea and it should spread.

Unlike penguins, humans are built to walk and run. Sitting in cars is boring. And there’s a big bonus if you get plenty of exercise. Plenty of exercise helps you grow up strong and healthy. There is a bonus for the planet too: more people walking equals less car use. Less car use means less pollution, less illness (exhaust fumes kill thousands and damage the lungs of millions of kids around the world) and less climate change. It’s a win win wouldn’t you say?

Make your own climate2020-05-29T07:30:14+00:00

Make your own climate… in your home or your room!

  • Turn the heating down in winter. If you’re cold, wear more clothes! And maybe your home needs insulating?
  • Turn the air conditioning down in summer or use a fan.

Make your own climate… around you!

  • When it’s hot, dress cool
  • When it’s cold, dress warm

It’s a no-brainer really. But you have a brain and a clever one too or you wouldn’t be reading this! And you’d be surprised at the number of people who would rather turn up the heating than put on a jacket or a pullover. Perhaps they don’t care about the high heating bills or just don’t think it through.

Many governments have started schemes offering grants to help people insulate their homes properly. Insulation may not be very exciting but it is a very effective way of cutting heating bills — and cutting CO2 emissions.
Shop locally2020-06-18T14:10:53+00:00

Buying local food

Shop locally: If you can, buy your food from local farm shops and try and avoid imported goods. Or get your family to join a veg box scheme. If you have a garden or backyard, why not try growing some fruit and veg?

Trucks and planes bringing in food and stuff from other countries, or from distant parts of your own country, use huge amounts of fuel.

Veg box schemes

In many countries, local farms offer boxes of fresh veg and fruit which they can usually deliver to your door. Use a search engine for ‘veg box schemes’ in your area.

Interested? There’s more on this in my Food guide.
Travelling light2020-05-29T07:53:19+00:00

Travelling light: Don’t travel long distances unless you really have to. Particularly try and avoid using aeroplanes and big, gas-guzzling cars cars like SUVs. See if your friends and parents could holiday locally.

Click here to find out instantly how much pollution you will create for any flight, anywhere
Find the best and worst cars or SUVs at www.fueleconomy.gov (for North America)
Sports Utility Vehicles
Power from the sun (free!)2020-06-18T14:13:36+00:00

Wind turbines

See if you can get your parents and friends interested in free solar energy — that’s energy from the sun and wind. Solar panels can help you get much of your hot water and heating from the sun and even generate electricity. If you live in a windy place, a wind turbine — also called ‘windmill’ — really is a serious option. More and more people are installing them and more and more companies are producing well-designed, sturdy machines. Many of the largest windfarms are now built offshore. Here’s a really huge one being built.

Find out more about renewables in my Energy guide.

Sun-powered cycling

How can you use solar power for cycling? Simple: plants use the sun to make and store energy. Your food mostly comes from plants (or animals that have eaten plants). The food gives you energy… so when you walk or jump on your bike, you too are using stored solar power.

Generating your own power is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Solar energy is free

Solar panels

There are two different ways of using the sun’s energy. One is to directly heat water in panels on a roof. The other is to generate electricity using photovoltaic (PV) panels as in the photo.

You have to buy special machines to use be able to use sun or wind energy. But once you’ve got them, the energy the machines make is free. The machines get cheaper all the time as more and more companies compete to give best value in a growing worldwide renewable energy market.

About wind turbines

Wind turbines are machines which take energy from the wind and use it to generate electricity. There are more and more types available. Some are designed to power single households and generate a few thousand watts of power. Some are real giants and can generate up to 8 MW (= million watts) of power each. These are often built in ‘windfarms’. More and more of these windfarms are being built well away from the land, out to sea where they don’t bother anyone. Both the little ones and the big ones can be linked together into the electricity grid. A special meter records how much power your turbine generates because the electricity companies will pay turbine owners for the energy their machines make. They can be a safer way to earn money than investing in the stock market.

Giant wind turbines in the North Sea.


What you eat affects climate change. Find out why and what you can do about it

Learn to cook! Home cooking is not only fun, it means you don’t have to drive to a takeaway or fast food restaurant. Result? Less pollution. If you make a garden, you can grow much of your own food. Did you know that if you eat fewer meat and dairy products, you can reduce greenhouse gas output? Here's why. And composting your waste food means it doesn’t have to be trucked away to a landfill waste dump where it will cause more pollution including methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Why meat-eating is becoming a problem for everyone on the planet

It takes, on average, 28 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce 1 calorie of meat protein for human consumption, [whereas] it takes only 3.3 calories of fossil- fuel energy to produce 1 calorie of protein from grain for human consumption. —David Pimentel, Cornell University
Giant livestock farms, which can house hundreds of thousands of pigs, chickens, or cows, produce vast amounts of waste. In fact, in the United States, these ‘factory farms’ generate more than 130 times the amount of waste than people do. —Natural Resources Defense Council

How can eating habits slow warming?

Animals like cows produce a lot of methane (they belch a lot of this gas!). Meat production also means more forests burned for ranching and growing more cattle feed. And many of these foods get flown in from other countries which means lots of ‘food miles’ and CO2 pollution. What’s more, a typical American diet makes 1.5 tonnes more greenhouse gases each year (per person) than that same person eating a pure vegetarian diet (vegan). That’s more than you’d save by swapping a standard car for an economical hybrid car.

Find out more – composting link

Waste food = more greenhouse gas!

Trucking waste of any sort to dumps means pollution. But food and garden waste in landfills doesn’t decay in the normal way. Instead, it becomes a stinking sludgy mess which produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Every kilo of grass clippings, potato peelings and other such stuff makes 2 kilos of methane.

Remember your 4 Rs2020-06-04T05:50:38+00:00

This kid recycles whatever she can. She knows her 4 Rs

Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair: Remember your four Rs!

    • Reduce: the most important. If you don’t buy so much stuff in the first place, then you don’t need to reuse or recycle it.
    • Reuse whatever you can (like plastic supermarket bags). If you can’t reuse something,
    • Recycle it! Or if you or someone in your family is handy, why not try to
    • Repair it!


The four Rs help cut down the amount of trash that ends up in landfills. If you can’t do any of those things, the waste you generate will end up in a huge landfills. Much of what you find in these stinking dumps is plastic waste. This is a special problem so I have written a

guide to the problem of plastic
which I hope you’ll look at. You’ll be shocked by what you find out just as I was when I was writing it!

If something you have breaks, consider repairing it. After all, if it’s broken and you were going to throw it out anyway, you’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain. Tip: Strong epoxy glues are good for most repairs. But some repairs need to be done by professionals: I’m thinking of computers, TVs and electrical stuff where high voltages could kill you if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Turn that thing off!2020-06-04T06:15:05+00:00

Turn off things that use electricity when nobody’s using them

    • Turning things off may seem a boring turn-off. But leaving lights, heating, air conditioning, computers, TVs and stuff on when you don’t need them wastes a lot of energy. Turning them off saves money too!
    • If it’s warm in one room and cold in another, close the door. The door helps keep heat in.
    • Leaving things on standby (like TVs, computers and stuff) also uses a surprising amount of energy. Newer models mostly use much less standby power but if you’re away for a few days, it still makes sense to turn stuff off. This also lessens the risk of fire.

And here’s a Ragbag of ideas for action…

  • the polluter pays: carbon-taxes
  • carbon rationing: the unfair way and the fair way
  • Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it

    Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.

    Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.

    Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
    The Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (approx. 563-483 BC)

  • demos: join a campaigning group and go on a climate demo with your friends
  • make sure to follow up on No 1 of this list of 12 — Get active. Follow Greta Thunberg . Pester politicians. Join a protest group like Extinction Rebellion (XR). Make a fuss!  This is the most important and probably the most difficult thing on the list But don’t give up!

What are carbon taxes?

It’s a complicated business but basically the idea is that the person who burns the most carbon pays the most tax. An example might be an electricity generating company which uses coal and produces enormous quantities of carbon dioxide to generate its electricity. The government would tax this company on all this carbon dioxide emission; the more the emission, the more the tax. The company will have to pass on the cost to its customers in the form of higher electricity prices. Otherwise, it will go out of business. The customers won’t like this and so will search for companies that generate electricity using non-carbon sources. So the coal burning company either finds non-carbon carbon energy sources for itself or it goes out of business.

The unfair way

If governments around the world are going to stick to the 2015 COP21 Paris Agreement to phase out fossil fuels, they are going to have to slow down the amount of coal, oil and natural gas that is produced by the energy companies. This will mean the price of fossil fuels will rise and rise, forcing people to find alternatives. Rich people won’t be much bothered by this because they have plenty of money. But poorer people all round the world will suffer because they won’t be able to afford the higher prices.

Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs)

Don’t be put off if you don’t know what TEQs (also called DTQs) are; I didn’t either. But they look like they could be a fair way to help slow global warming and energy shortages. So get your head round TEQs here.

Confused about claims and counter-claims about climate change?

FactCheck.org’s SciCheck page is a good place to find out what real science is telling us. If you feel you need to find out more about global warming, try some of my links (above). And watch out: Don’t believe all you read or see. Question everything! Not everybody tells the truth including, sadly, some politicians.

It is adults that have brought us to the brink of climate breakdown. Children are supposed to do as they’re told and not ask questions but Greta Thunberg has really put adults on the spot in her emotional speeches to the United Nations climate conferences and many other venues. She knows what she’s talking about and you know what she says is true because she knows that science is paramount to our understanding of climate and the biosphere. and she knows what to do about it: stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible. You can follow her on Twitter

So climate change is not all gloom and doom. There’s plenty you can do.
Let’s make a start with my four climate change quizzes.

If you know your stuff and “get it” on global heating, then you should get a very high score. And whilst you can make this into a competition between your friends the real aim is to alert you to the terrible tragedies which may well lie ahead of you if you cannot stop today’s “grown-ups” destroying what you will need in the future.

I also have a Climate crossword puzzle.
Please please remember: how you choose to use energy affects all life on Earth. The more energy you use, the more the planet warms up. So please think before you act… and turn off that light. Everything you do like that helps a little!Want to find out more? Visit my global warming links section (above). If you haven’t seen my Energy Guide, now’s the time to look.What do you think about climate change? Have you any good ideas about what we can do to make things better?

OK kids. It’s your planet. Please treat it kindly!

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