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Melting Away
(Climate Change)
Climate change, often called global warming, interests both scientists and the general public. It is a
popular topic because it has the potential to cause major changes to our planet and the way we live.
As the earth’s climate becomes warmer, rain patterns change. Some areas will become more arid
and some will receive greater rainfall. Staple food crops grow in certain areas because of the
temperature patterns, and the production of these crops may decrease if the climate change is too
great. This could reduce the amount of food available on the planet.
The polar ice caps will also be affected as the earth warms. More ice will melt from glaciers and from
Antarctica. This will raise the level of the oceans and flood the coastal regions of the world where
millions of people now live.
Because of its potential impact, scientists are anxious to determine what’s causing this climate
change and how we can reduce the problem. One cause is the increasing amount of carbon dioxide
added to our atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
prevents heat energy from escaping into space. This is called the greenhouse effect because the
carbon dioxide traps the heat on the planet like glass traps heat in a greenhouse. Fossil fuels such
as coal and petroleum are the major energy sources used by most people in the world. Reducing the
amount of fossil fuel burned would require significant changes in industry, transportation, and
lifestyle for most of the population.
Some climate specialists, who examine evidence from long periods of earth history, see the climate
change as part of recurring cycles that aren’t simply a result of human activity. The earth has gone
through cold periods, ice ages, and warm periods. This may not be unusual. The impact of human
activity on the natural cycles is causing many people to examine solutions that may slow the
warming process.
Global warming happens worldwide, but localized effects are what we notice. For some parts of the
earth, the change is welcome, because warmer temperatures and increased rainfall mean more crop
production and better living conditions. In other places, the impact is undesirable since decreased
crop production can mean higher food costs.
Many of the current and potential changes on the planet are still unknown. Changes in the climate
will cause ecological changes that won’t be visible for years. Some of these future changes may
cause severe problems that won’t be identified until the damage is irreversible. Not everyone agrees
on the causes or the solutions, but the evidence so far indicates that this is a problem we can’t afford
to ignore..
Questions for Research
Does the Bible say anything related to climate change? If so, what?
Is global warming evident where you live? Where? How?
What other effects may global warming have in your home town and country?
Research Ideas
Climatology, global warming, polar ice cap