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Environmental Issues Webquest

Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect
Go to and answer the following questions.

1. What is the greenhouse effect?

2. How does it relate to climate change?

3. Draw and label the greenhouse effect.

4. Scroll down to the section “The Greenhouse Effect is Natural. What do we have to do with it?” What are some ways that humans are thought to be contributing to climate change?

5. Scroll down to the section “Small Average Global Temperature Change can have a Big Impact.” (Do not use the large map. Scroll down past it) Describe how global warming might affect the
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Also, by clearing forests to support agriculture, we are transferring carbon from living biomass into the atmosphere (dry wood is about 50 percent carbon).

The result is that humans are adding ever-increasing amounts of extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Because of this, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are higher today than they have been over the last half-million years or longer.

— The Carbon Cycle; The Human Role, Earth Observatory, NASA

Another way of looking at this is with a simple analogy: consider salt and human health:

• A small amount of salt is essential for human life; • Slightly more salt in our diet often makes food tastier; • Too much salt can be harmful to our health.

In a similar way, greenhouse gases are essential for our planet; the planet may be able to deal with slightly increased levels of such gases, but too much will affect the health of the whole planet.

[pic]Image source: NASA.(Note, values shown represent Carbon Gigatons being absorbed and released)
The other difference between the natural carbon cycle and human-induced climate change is that the latter is rapid. This means that ecosystems have less chance of adapting to the changes that will result and so the effects
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