Our planet earth has sustained climatic changes for millions of years and continues to battle the human activities of society today. These activities are causing climate changes that will have an impact in the present and in the future. One of the most important climate processes is called the greenhouse effect. It occurs when the sun’s energy enters the atmosphere in the form of light waves and heats up the Earth. The proper balance of this energy in the Earth’s atmosphere keeps our climate stable. Scientists have provided strong evidence that greenhouse gases are causing global warming and disrupting the Earth’s precious eco-systems. Knowledge and awareness will help the population respond with global climate change solutions and resilient societies to combat the human behaviors and activities that continue to destroy our one and only earth.
Human Society is Altering the Fragile Balance of our Planet
Human society is altering the fragile balance of our planet without awareness of the consequences of the ever-changing climate. Our current global society needs to move from an old paradigm of thoughtless human activities and lack of concern for global sustainability to a more literate and resilient society. As Nate Lewis (2007) of Caltech suggests: We are currently conducting the biggest experiment with Planet Earth that humankind has ever performed by tinkering with our climate, “We get to do this experiment exactly once. And there is no tomorrow, because in 20 years that experiment will be cast in stone. Within the next 20 years, we either solve this problem or the world will never be the same! (p. 14) As human activities continue to add greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxides to the Earth’s atmosphere, global temperatures are expected to rise, causing the Earth’s climate to change. These climate changes may affect precipitation patterns, severe and extreme weather events, and over time environmental systems. Furthermore, human health and agriculture may be sensitive to climate change. Therefore, if science education is to promote a citizenry knowledgeable about global warming and climate change it is essential they become aware of greenhouse effect, global warming, and climate change (Osborne, 1985). It is upon each of us to learn more about global climate change through our knowledge-based society and apply sustainable and resilient solutions to help mitigate the existing damages to our environment.
Our global climate system involves many different systems related to temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressures, wind, and precipitation and other measurements over long periods. In contrast, weather is the present condition of these systems over short periods. Weather is what people want to know because it has an immediate impact on their daily lives. Moreover, people may not recognize climate progression because they are generally unaware or not concerned about gradual changes. Scientists tell us these gradual changes are caused from the build-up of greenhouse gases which influence the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect occurs when the sun’s energy enters the atmosphere in the form of light waves and heats up the Earth. (see figure 1, Le Treut et al. 2007 for more detailed explanation). Some of that energy warms the Earth and is re-radiated back into space in the form of infrared waves. Under normal conditions, a portion of the outgoing infrared radiation is naturally trapped by the atmosphere—and that is a good thing, because it keeps the temperature on Earth within comfortable bounds (Gore 2006).
Figure 1 An idealised model of the natural greenhouse effect, Le Treut et al. 2007 The greenhouse effect needs to be balanced to keep the Earth stable and sustainable for our future generations. Gore (2006) states, the climate crisis we now face is that this thin...