You may have heard that humans are wrecking the planet with pollution, and especially a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2). A lot of people say that CO2 traps heat and leads to global warming. The planet’s temperature could rise by 2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit. That affects how high the ocean is, how plants grow, and how hot we feel.
A lot of people say the “science is settled” on climate change, which means that everyone agrees on what is going to happen. In fact, nobody really knows what will happen to the climate.
Imagine that you are flying for vacation to Disney World in Florida. You’re super excited, but when you get on the airplane, the captain says: “Most pilots agree that the trip will take 2.7 to 8.1 hours. Hope we will survive. Have a nice flight.” Would you feel safe in an airplane where the pilot is so unsure? Many people would be scared if their pilot didn’t understand flying better than this.
What Will Happen?
It makes sense that plants and animals don’t like big, fast changes. Most humans don’t like them, either. When water is heated, it expands (gets bigger). This means that an ocean getting warmer and melting glaciers will cause sea levels to rise. So if climate change is real, it could be a big problem.
But a lot of scientists agree that climate change is uncertain. A lot of people accept the worst-case scenarios on temperature changes. If the Earth only gets 2.7°F hotter, it will not be dangerous. On the other hand, we might have trouble if the Earth’s temperature gets 8.1°F degrees hotter.
Pollution and damage to the environment are real problems, but will they lead to climate change? Nobody really knows.