Perhaps you’ve noticed some differences in the weather …
Maybe the dry season seems hotter and drier than before. Maybe the rain is coming at a different time from when you were a child. Perhaps it seems to flood more often, or there seems to be more fires.
Climate refers to the weather patterns over a long time. Indonesia has a tropical climate. In the tropics, it is generally hot all year, and there are two seasons: a dry season and a rainy season.
Everywhere in the world, people are noticing these kinds of changes in the weather. Compared with the past, there are more floods, droughts, landslides, storms, heat waves, and fires. Temperatures are higher. Experts say that this is because of changes in the climate.
The air in the sky, called the atmosphere, is made up of many gases. Some of these are called “greenhouse gases”. Greenhouse gases trap the heat from the sun in the air, so they keep the Earth warm enough for humans, animals and plants to live here. But if there is too much greenhouse gas, the planet gets too hot. The air temperature rises. The sea temperature rises. Rainfall patterns change. Ice in cold countries melts and goes into the sea, and the sea level rises.
This is happening now.
Greenhouse gases are natural. But many modern human activities make extra greenhouse gas. Most warming of the planet is due to a greenhouse gas called carbon dioxide. The main way we make carbon dioxide is by burning fossil fuels, such as gas, oil or coal. Fossil fuels are burned for many purposes:
Other greenhouse gases are methane and nitrous oxide. Agriculture, especially growing rice, makes a lot of methane. Farm animals, such as cows and goats, make methane when they digest food. Methane also comes from burning fossil fuels, mining, landfills, waste, peat, and land fires. Nitrous oxide mainly comes from fertilizers and some factories. Greenhouse gases are also released when we drain or burn peat. In addition, deforestation causes extra greenhouse gas in the air.
Carbon dioxide is made up of carbon and oxygen. We need oxygen to breathe. Carbon is a major chemical element. It is in all living things and in fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.
Trees take carbon dioxide out of the air. They store the carbon and release the oxygen. This process is called photosynthesis. It makes the air fresh and healthy. When we cut down trees, they can no longer take in carbon dioxide, so there is more carbon dioxide in the air. In addition, when forests are cleared, many trees and other plants are burned, and this releases carbon dioxide.