The planet is warming
We’ve all heard of global warming, but what exactly is it and why is it such a danger to our planet? Most scientists agree that global warming is a real threat and that it is man who is responsible for the current rise in the earth’s temperature.

Our use of fossil fuels, such as oil, coal, gas and electricity to power our modern lifestyles emits a staggering 70 million tons of carbon dioxide into
the atmosphere every day. And these emissions
create a kind of ceiling that surrounds the
planet – a bit like greenhouse glass – which
then causes the temperature to rise.

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is the
highest it has been for 150,000 years – with the
1990s thought to have been the hottest decade
in history – and if we continue producing these levels, it’s predicted it will become hotter than at any time in the past two million years. Already, in some parts of the world, temperatures have risen by up to four degrees in 50 years.

A hotter planet inevitably means that rivers and wetlands – vital to communities of both humans and wildlife – are drying up. Around 41 per cent of the world’s population has problems with
water supply due to river and lakes shrinking, and more than 20 per cent of our 10,000 freshwater species have become extinct.
water is under threat
While 72 per cent of the earth’s surface is covered in water, only three per cent of it
is fresh (and that’s including the glaciers)
and drinkable. And this small supply is
unevenly distributed with just 10 countries sharing 60 per cent of the world’s water reserves.

Here in the UK, we are not immune to shortages. London is drier than Istanbul
while the south-east of England has less
water available per person than in
countries such as The Sudan and Syria. Meanwhile, our water consumption – 150
litres per person every day – is only
making matters worse. Rainforests, such
as the Amazon, have a huge role to play in
keeping carbon levels under control.
Millions of trees in these areas produce
oxygen and absorb CO2 in a process called
photosynthesis, which is vital to the
balance of the ecosystem. However, man
has gradually destroyed rainforests,
contributing to global warming.
Green glossery
CARBON FOOTPRINT – The amount of
carbon dioxide (CO2) each of us produces

CARBON NEUTRAL – Cancelling out our
carbon footprint by helping eco-schemes

GREENHOUSE EFFECT - Heat, produced by
gases trapped in the earth’s atmosphere

KYOTO PROTOCOL – The 2005 international
agreement to cut CO2 emissions

– Water-powered

HYBRID CAR – combined fuel and electric

DESALINATION – removing salt from sea

BIOFUELS – fuel created from plants

– oil, coal, gas
Wildlife is suffering
The destruction of natural habitats has brought many species to the brink of extinction. Some have been destroyed by man, through farming and tree logging, while other areas have fallen victim to forest fires and shrinking rivers.

Dolphins and whales, for example, face many dangers, including pollution, which can affect their fertility. Their food sources are also under threat due to rising sea temperatures and dolphins in particular often get caught in fishing nets.

Warmer temperatures have also led to the melting of the polar icecaps, causing sea levels to rise and threatening the polar bear's environment. And the tiger's habitat has also been destroyed by logging and agriculture, making them endangered.

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