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Last updated: 15 March 2024

Climate Change for Kids: Our Planet's Challenge

What's the deal with climate change?

Have you ever wondered why our planet sometimes feels like it's playing a game of hot and cold? Let's embark on an exciting journey to uncover the mysteries of climate change, a big word for a big problem.  

Earth is like a giant puzzle of land, water, and air. But there's a twist – the puzzle is changing, and we must learn how and why.

So, imagine our Earth is like a big, cosy blanket that keeps us warm. This blanket is made up of something called "the atmosphere," which is like an invisible shield around our planet. It's supposed to trap just the right amount of heat from the sun to keep us comfy, not too hot and cold.

Climate change is a big deal because it affects everything around us. It's not just about feeling too hot or too cold. It's about all the animals, plants, and people who call this planet home. Since the Industrial Revolution, human activities have contributed to this increase in temperature. As a result, we are witnessing various impacts on our environment, wildlife, and even our own lives. 

Here are some key statistics to help you understand the severity of climate change

  1. The Earth's average surface temperature has increased by one °C (1.8°F) in the last 150 years, with over half of the rise occurring since the mid-1970s.
  2. In the past 20 years, many of the warmest years on record have occurred.
  3. Sea levels have risen by 28.42 cm since 1900
  4. 29,568,781,522 tons of CO2 have been emitted into the atmosphere because of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas.
  5. The Earth is now about 1.1°C (2°F) warmer than it was in the 1800s, and global temperatures are projected to rise by 2.7°C (4.8°F) by the end of the year 2100. 
  6. 80% of the world's energy comes from burning fossil fuels.
  7. Human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation, release greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming.
Climate change for Kids

Causes of climate change

Climate change is a long-term shift in the Earth's weather patterns and temperatures. While the climate has permanently naturally changed, human activities have accelerated the process, causing the planet to warm faster than ever before.

These human activities are causing the Earth's temperature to rise, leading to more extreme and unpredictable weather patterns. As temperatures increase, it becomes more challenging for people, animals, and plants to adapt to their changing environment. 

Understanding the causes of climate change is the first step in taking action to protect our planet. Let's explore some of the key factors contributing to climate change.

Burning Fossil Fuels

One of the biggest causes of climate change is burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas, accounting for over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions. When we burn these fuels to power our cars, create electricity, or heat our homes, we release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide (CO2), trap heat from the sun and cause our planet to warm up. 


Cutting down forests is also a significant contributor to climate change. Forests act as natural carbon sinks, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in trees and soil. When we cut down forests for agriculture, timber, or urban development, we release the stored carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse effect. Deforestation also reduces the Earth's ability to absorb CO2, further exacerbating the problem.


Agriculture also plays a significant role in climate change. Farming activities, such as raising livestock and using fertilisers, release methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) into the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases are much more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, making them potent contributors to global warming. 

Industrial processes

Many industrial processes, such as cement production and chemical manufacturing, release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Landfills and factories release harmful stuff into the air, making the atmosphere less clean. These emissions contribute to the overall increase in global temperatures and the changing climate. 

Waste and Pollution

Solid waste generates greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane and nitrous oxide, through the anaerobic decay of waste in landfills and the emission of nitrous oxide from solid waste combustion facilities. Additionally, waste sector methane emissions stem from the breakdown of organic waste in anaerobic conditions, including food and yard waste, paper, cardboard, and wood.

Methane is more than 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate pollutant in the short term. Plastics have a significant carbon footprint, emitting 3.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions throughout their lifecycle. 

Did you know? The world makes enough plastic yearly to cover the entire planet in plastic wrap!

Effects of climate change

Climate change has numerous effects on the environment and human health.

The most significant effects of climate change include:

  • Hotter temperatures: Global average surface temperature has increased by at least 1.1°C (1.9°F), leading to more frequent high-temperature extremes, such as heatwaves.
  • Extreme weather events: Climate change is causing more frequent and severe storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires.
  • Sea level rise: Global mean sea level has risen about 21–24 centimetres (8–9 inches) since 1880, with an accelerated rate of 3.6 millimetres (0.14 inches) per year.
  • Melting ice and glaciers: Climate change is causing the loss of sea ice, melting glaciers, and ice sheets, which contributes to sea level rise and affects ecosystems
  • Shifts in plant and animal geographic ranges: As temperatures rise and ecosystems change, plant and animal species shift, leading to biodiversity loss and ecosystem disruptions. 
  • Impacts on human health: Climate change has worsened air and water quality, increased the spread of certain diseases, and caused additional deaths due to malnutrition, malaria, and other health issues.
  • Food and water insecurity: Climate change has led to food and water shortages, resulting in malnutrition and increased risk of infectious diseases.

What can you do?

Some solutions can help mitigate its effects and contribute to a more sustainable future. Here are some critical climate change solutions:

  • Save Energy: One of the easiest ways to help is by saving energy daily. Turn off lights when you're not using them, unplug devices when they're not in use, and close doors and windows to keep heat from escaping.
  • Plant trees and grow your food: Did you know that plants and trees can help remove greenhouse gases from the air? Planting a tree or growing vegetables and fruits helps our planet breathe easier. Plus, gardening is a fun and healthy activity for the whole family!
  • Green transportation: Encouraging public transportation, cycling, walking, and electric vehicles can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.
  • Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle: We can all do our part to reduce waste by reusing and recycling items whenever possible. For example, instead of buying new things, try fixing broken items or repurposing them for a different use. And remember to recycle paper, plastic, glass, and other materials to help keep our planet clean and green.
  • Learn and share: Knowledge is power! Learn as much as you can about climate change and share what you've learned with your friends and family. Understanding, discussing and encouraging others to adopt eco-friendly habits can inspire others to take action and make a difference.
  • Support green initiatives: Encourage your school, community, and local businesses to adopt environmentally friendly practices. This could include recycling programs, energy-efficient lighting, or renewable energy sources like solar panels.
  • Be a climate change ambassador: You can be a positive role model for others by showing them how easy and fun it is to make eco-friendly choices. Please share your knowledge and experiences with your friends, classmates, and family members, and encourage them to join you in taking action against climate change.
  • Get involved in environmental projects: Join local environmental clubs or organisations focusing on climate change solutions. Participate in activities like tree planting, clean-up events, or educational workshops to help make a difference in your community.
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