Question: how would you explain global warming to someone how knows nothing about science?


  1. Our planet is getting warmer because people are excessive heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere. These gases are called greenhouse gases. They exist naturally in the atmosphere, where they help keep the Earth warm enough for plants and animals to live. But people are adding extra greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. These extra gases are causing the Earth to get warmer, setting off all sorts of other changes around the world. These changes affect people, plants, and animals in many ways. Warmer temperatures are causing other changes around the world, such as melting glaciers and stronger storms. These changes are happening because the Earth’s air, water, and land are all linked to the climate.


  2. @kaiser
    Good Question – Tough one though.

    Global warming is process where increasing amounts of heat from the sun during the day is retained by a growing layer of gas within the earths atmosphere. Like a greenhouse or your outdoor parked car, heat from the sun will accumulate inside. Greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide etc) from the planet are natural and essential to maintain the protective atmosphere we have. However the rate and amount of greenhouse gases being emitted over the last few hundred years is starting to impact the natural balance in greenhouse gases and it appears the gas layer is thickening and causing less heat to be lost to space. This is causing temperatures to slowly increase at the surface of the planet. This will have an impact on the general weather of the planet (mean temperature, rainfall, severe storms, wind, ocean health) and ultimately how we live.

    I’m a bit worried about it. Humans appear to have accelerated this process and collectively we need to acknowledge that. Hopefully we can then correct our contribution to the problem but that requires everyone to get together to agree and then act. I think there are good signs from the new generations that this will happen, not too sure about the older ones though. Hopefully it won’t be too late.


  3. The gases in the atmosphere (greenhouse gases) make a big enclosure around the earth so when heat from the sun comes through the atmosphere, some of it gets trapped in by the gases and keeps Earth at a nice temperature. If you add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, more heat is trapped and the Earth gets warmer.

    The Earth has experienced lots of changes in climate throughout history (like ice ages and warm periods) but a lot of people think that Earth is getting warmer now because humans are pumping lots of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by burning up fossil fuels that release carbon dioxide that has been trapped underground for thousands of years. We can try and stop the Earth from heating up by finding new ways to produce electricity and fuel that won’t pollute the air.


  4. Really good question! As scientists we need to be able to communicate our facts to the public in a way we can understand. I think Harjeet, Brent and Dominique have done a great job so far.

    To link it to climate change: our planet is naturally kept warm by gasses in our atmosphere. This is global warming and Is an essential function to maintain life on earth. Climate change is the excessive heating of our earth and this is occurring at the moment as the result of our actions (burning fossil fuels etc.). This can be a big problem for the environment as weather conditions will become more extreme and our plants and animals can’t adapt to these changes in climate fast enough.

    This is a pretty good link that describes global warming and climate change:


  5. This might be from 2010 but the Australian Academy of Science produced a really good report called the Science of climate change, questions and answers,