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Effects of Global Climate Change

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

The world seems to be getting hotter, and this appears to be linked to increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What effects might this have?

An increase in temperatures of a few degrees doesn't sound like much, but it can trigger other effects which are potentially very serious. These include:

  • Rising sea levels, caused by water expanding as it gets warmer and ice caps melting
  • Loss of habitats for wildlife, changing the places where animals can survive well
  • More frequent extreme weather events, like heatwaves and storms
  • Changes in rainfall patterns
  • Changes in food availability, as different crops grow well in different conditions

There are two ways of dealing with these issues. One is to adaptation of our lifestyles and helping wildlife adapt to changes in climate (long term average weather). Examples include:

  • Changing the design of buildings, to be more suited to hotter weather.
  • Growing different crops, which tolerate drought and high temperature better.
  • Setting aside "wildlife corridors" to help species migrate.

The other thing we need to do is to slow down, or reverse climate change, by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. This is called mitigation. It is also called reducing the carbon footprint; the carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released by an individual though the things that they do or buy. There are already technologies to reduce carbon footprints, including:

  • Using energy more efficiently. For example, LED light bulbs use about one-tenth of the energy of traditional light bulbs to produce the same amount of light. They cost more to buy, but cost a lot less to use.
  • Use methods of generating electricity that don't produce carbon dioxide. These include renewable resources (solar, wind, tidal) and nuclear power.
  • Reverse deforestation by planting more forests, because trees are very effective at absorbing and storing carbon dioxide.
  • Capture and store carbon dioxide when it is produced. This is called Carbon Capture and Storage. The idea is to collect CO2 as it is produces, then pump it deep into the Earth. We know that gas (like methane) can stay underground for a long time, so this works in principle. However, this method needs more development to be used for real.

All these things are possible, and we probably need a mixture of adaptation and mitigation. Unfortunately, many of the solutions cost a lot of money, or mean that people will need to change their habits. That means it is important that everyone understands how important the challenge of climate change is, because at the moment, not everyone is convinced. Then everyone can help solve the problem. You might find yourself using your science knowledge to come up with new solutions!

If global temperatures increase, sea levels are expected to rise. Pick two reasons for this.

sea beds will rise

land will erode into the sea

sea water will expand

ice will melt

If global temperatures increase, how is the frequency of storms expected to change?

Less frequent

No change

More frequent

Complete this paragraph about food supplies. Use these words;

adapted, climate, different

Less frequent

No change

More frequent

Match up these words with their meanings.

Column A

Column B

Adaptation
Long-term average weather
Climate
Changing how we live to cope with changed conditio...
Mitigation
Changing what we do to slow down or reverse climat...

Look at these ideas. Which ones adapt to climate change, and which ones mitigate climate change?

 AdaptationMitigation
Designing buildings to cope with hotter weather
Growing heat-tolerant crops
Using solar energy
Walking instead of driving a car

Which of these energy resources do not produce carbon dioxide overall? Tick all the right answers.

wind power

burning natural gas

solar power

burning coal

nuclear power

burning wood

Why are LED light bulbs better for the environment than traditional light bulbs. Fill in the gaps in this paragraph, using the words more, less, same.

wind power

burning natural gas

solar power

burning coal

nuclear power

burning wood

In the UK, the average carbon footprint is about 9500 kg of CO2 per person per year. A single tree will absorb about 700 kg of CO2, depending on the type of tree and growing conditions. How many trees will need to grow to offset the carbon footprint of one person for one year? Give your answer to the nearest whole number.

 

Which of these sources of greenhouse gas would Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) be most likely to work for?

Car engines burning petrol

Power stations burning coal

Cows producing methane

Why is it hard to adapt to, and mitigate, against climate change?

Many actions require people to change their habits.

There is nothing useful we can do.

Some people are unsure that climate change is real.

Many actions are expensive.

Climate change isn't affecting us.

  • Question 1

If global temperatures increase, sea levels are expected to rise. Pick two reasons for this.

CORRECT ANSWER
sea water will expand
ice will melt
EDDIE SAYS
Nearly all substances expand as they warm up, and sea water isn't an exception to this. So far, this has been a bigger cause of rising sea levels than the melting of glaciers.
  • Question 2

If global temperatures increase, how is the frequency of storms expected to change?

CORRECT ANSWER
More frequent
EDDIE SAYS
Modelling suggests that storms will be more frequent in hotter conditions, because there will be more energy in global weather systems.
  • Question 3

Complete this paragraph about food supplies. Use these words;

adapted, climate, different

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Farmers grow they crops they do because they grow well in the places where they are. If climate changes, different crops will be the best ones to grow- or maybe, few things will grow well.
  • Question 4

Match up these words with their meanings.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Adaptation
Changing how we live to cope with...
Climate
Long-term average weather
Mitigation
Changing what we do to slow down ...
EDDIE SAYS
Make sure that you're clear about the difference between adaptation and mitigation. Given where we are now, society is probably going to need a mix of both to cope well.
  • Question 5

Look at these ideas. Which ones adapt to climate change, and which ones mitigate climate change?

CORRECT ANSWER
 AdaptationMitigation
Designing buildings to cope with hotter weather
Growing heat-tolerant crops
Using solar energy
Walking instead of driving a car
EDDIE SAYS
Remember- mitigation is about slowing or stopping climate change, and adaptation is about coping better with the consequences.
  • Question 6

Which of these energy resources do not produce carbon dioxide overall? Tick all the right answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
wind power
solar power
nuclear power
burning wood
EDDIE SAYS
\"Burning wood\" is the tricky one in this list. When the wood is burnt, it does release carbon dioxide, but that carbon dioxide was absorbed while the tree was growing. Over the life of the tree, burning wood is carbon-neutral.
  • Question 7

Why are LED light bulbs better for the environment than traditional light bulbs. Fill in the gaps in this paragraph, using the words more, less, same.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
LED lamps are a brilliant (brilliant!) example of efficient technology; if we could reduce all our energy consumption by 90 %, it would largely solve the carbon dioxide problem. LED lamps also show the challenge; they are an easy way of reducing energy use, but people aren't keen to use them because they cost more to start with.
  • Question 8

In the UK, the average carbon footprint is about 9500 kg of CO2 per person per year. A single tree will absorb about 700 kg of CO2, depending on the type of tree and growing conditions. How many trees will need to grow to offset the carbon footprint of one person for one year? Give your answer to the nearest whole number.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
14
EDDIE SAYS
9500 ÷ 700 = 13.57, so the nearest whole number is 14. That is potentially a lot of trees to plant! Reforestation will help, but it isn't a complete answer.
  • Question 9

Which of these sources of greenhouse gas would Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) be most likely to work for?

CORRECT ANSWER
Power stations burning coal
EDDIE SAYS
The advantage of power stations is that they stay in one place, so it would be possible to pipe carbon dioxide directly to the place it will be stored. Cars and cows move about, and it's hard to think how we could capture the carbon dioxide they produce.
  • Question 10

Why is it hard to adapt to, and mitigate, against climate change?

CORRECT ANSWER
Many actions require people to change their habits.
Some people are unsure that climate change is real.
Many actions are expensive.
EDDIE SAYS
Although there are questions about some of the details, the broad picture linking human actions, carbon dioxide and harmful climate change is pretty robust. There are things we can do which will help, even if they cost money, or are less convenient for us.
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