Climate Change Questions and Answers

There are so many questions related to global warming and climate change. This climate change questions and answers page is dedicated to providing some answers to your questions.

We would ask that before you ask a question, you read relevant sections on this web site about your question. This is to avoid duplication, as your question might already have a page dedicated to the topic.

You can use the Google search tool below to search this web site. Just put in the key word(s) you are looking for, check the button and then hit search.

Jessica’s Question: How can teens in isolated small country towns spread the word and make awareness of this continuing problem?

Hi Jessica, I grew up in the outback of Western Australia, so I know how difficult it might appear to spread the word about climate change. However, we now have the internet as a way of connecting with people and this is a very powerful tool.

Firstly, I would encourage you to adopt the 3 Step Climate Action Plan. If you really want to make a difference Jessica, this a great approach!

Secondly, learn all you can about climate change. We have just developed a new Climate Course which will provide you with the basics about climate change. Talk to your mother and father and see if they are happy for you to take the course! You can view the introduction page here. Don’t forget to download the free eBook called What You Can Do, this has got lots of great ideas and you can send it to all your friends.

And lastly, if you have MySpace or something similar you could put the 3 Step Climate Change banner on your site which you will encourage others to learn about climate change. Just copy and paste the following html code to your page:

<table style=”text-align: left; width: 579px; height: 90px;”
border=”1″ cellpadding=”2″ cellspacing=”2″>
<td style=”width: 551px;”>
<div style=”text-align: center; width: 617px;”><a
style=”border: 0px solid ; width: 397px; height: 78px;” alt=””


Lundie’s Question: How does wind affect climate?

Lundie, the human activity that is changing climate is likely to have contributed to changes in wind patterns, affecting extra-tropical storm tracks and temperature patterns in both northern and southern hemispheres. Recently you may have seen some research showing a relatively rapid increase in average wind strengths over the Southern Ocean that is hindering uptake of CO2 by the Southern Ocean. There is a feedback here, but really it is the other way round… climate impacts on wind. The 2007 IPCC Report states that it is likely that future tropical cyclones (typhoons and hurricanes) will become more intense, with larger peak wind speeds and heavier rainfall associated with ongoing increases of tropical sea surface temperatures. It is a changing climate that causes this. Take a look at the climate-weather page, as it will help to distinguish between weather (wind) conditions and long term patterns (climate).

Carolyn’s Question: When are the effects of global warming going to occur?

The impacts of global warming are already being felt Carolyn. Numerous long-term changes in climate have now been observed. These include changes in Arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in rainfall amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones. These will tend to increase as temperature continues rise in the decades ahead. If you would like to read a bit more detail, please go to our IPCC Physical Science Basis page and spend a bit of time looking over the rest of the site.

Jessica’s Question: What kind of weather does global warming cause?

Jessica, the IPCC report released in Feb of 2007, suggests that at continental, regional, and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These observations show that weather patterns are changing and there are widespread changes in rainfall, changes to ocean salinity, and shifts in wind patterns. Global warming will cause extreme weather events to increase in frequency, including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones.

Zhanibek’s Question: How can the disaster around Aral Lake be stopped. What can people like me, students, do about that? What should be done on a governmental level?

Hi Zhanibek and thanks for your questions. I gather you have visited the the Aral Sea page on this site? Unfortunately, the drying up of this water resource is not something that can be reversed within any short time frame. The problem highlights how serious global warming really is, and also reinforces the fact that it is a global problem. At a governmental level I would suggest that you work at your local level, and ensure that your State and National politicians are lobbied to address greenhouse gas emissions. By taking action at a local level we can influence events at a global level. For this reason we have developed the 3 Step Climate Action Plan, and this is something that you can be involved with. You can see the 3 Step Climate Action Plan here.

Judy’s Question: What is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?


Hi Judy, In recognising the threat of climate change the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)set up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. It is an intergovernmental body that is open to all member countries of the UNEP and of WMO. The IPCC does not carry out research nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters. It bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature. It is an extremely useful organisation, drawing together research from around the globe, and providing this research as a compelling synthesis.

More information is available on the IPCC web site.

Mayissala’s Question: Why is a this problem, particularly with the Himalayas?


Hi Mayissala, I gather you are asking why global warming is a problem. If you are unsure why global warming is a problem, then spend a bit of time reading on this site. For a quick overview of the impacts of global warming go here. In answer to the last part of your question, much of the information I am providing on the Himalayans has it origins with the International Panel on Climate Change.

Seasonal variations in the water resources of Nepal’s Himalaya region are very high, mainly due to heavy and concentrated rainfall during a short time period, plus the steep topography, which encourages higher surface runoff, and the high rate of deforestation in the run of areas. Glacial lake outburst floods are potentially disastrous as temperature increases create an increase in the number and extent of glacial lakes. Recent examples, suggestive of increasingly frequent occurrences in the future, include the catastrophic outburst of two glacial lakes in the Lunana area, northern Bhutan, in October 1994 (which resulted in the deaths of 21 persons and damage to villages, washed away bridges, and filled water with debris and large logs) and the 1985 outburst flood in Khumbu Himal, Nepal.

Devastating floods occur in the central Himalaya of Nepal during the monsoon months of June through September. Monsoon floods differ from glacial lake outbursts and floods caused by breaching of landslide dams: Monsoon floods are of longer duration and less sudden in onset. There is likely to be increased severity and frequency of monsoonal storms and flooding in the Himalayas, which are expected outcomes of climate change, may significantly alter the area’s erosion, river discharge, and sediment dynamics. Eventually, this may affect existing hydro power reservoirs, as well as those planned for construction in the Himalayas. Part of the generated sediment may be deposited on agricultural lands or in irrigation canals and streams, which will contribute to a deterioration in crop production and in the quality of agricultural lands.

In Nepal, Bhutan, and northern India, mountains provide food, fuel, and fresh water-which are needed for human survival and are fundamental resources for tourism and economic development. All these basic resources will be seriously impacted upon as the climate changes.

Megan’s Question: How can Teens in the United States help get the message through to the people to let them know what we need to do to help save the earth?

Thanks for your question Megan. To make any change requires action, right? Like if you want to get better grades, the action required may mean allocating more time to study, and less time hanging with friends on the phone etc:)

What you can do is act… but firstly you need to know what action to take. I would suggest you download the eBook “What You Can Do” and read it thoroughly… (it is not too big). This contains lots of practical advice and things you can do. Email it to all your friends, get them involved, send them the link to this site and encourage them to understand the issues. Talking to people is action… raising awareness of the issue is one of the biggest things you can do. Once people really understand the implications of climate change they are more likely to act themselves.

We also have developed the 3 STEP CLIMATE ACTION PLAN, and would encourage you to adopt this simple approach. Megan, you can make a difference!

Grant’s Question: What is Global Warming?

The fossil fuels we are burning in ever-increasing amounts contributes to higher concentrations of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous dioxide. These gases are called greenhouse gases as they effectively make the blanket around our globe thicker, trapping more heat, causing global warming and turning the globe into a green house.

Stephen’s Questions:

Q1. What percentage does volcanic activity effects our climate? This would also include the under water activity that goes on unobserved?

Volcanoes release more than 130 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (this estimate includes both sub aerial and submarine volcanoes, about equal amounts). Emissions of CO2 by human activities, including fossil fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring, amount to about 32 billion tonnes per year. Human activities release more than 150 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes, the equivalent of nearly 17,000 additional volcanoes like Kilauea (Kilauea emits about 13.2 million tonnes/year)!

Q2. Solar flares, does this affect our climate??

Over the last 1 million years, the earth’s climate record has revealed a 100,000-year cycle oscillating between relatively cold and warm conditions, and data on the sun’s magnetic activity does correspond to the earth’s ice age history ( Milankovitch Theory and more recently Mukul Sharma).

IPCC scientists hold that the variation in the solar constant (Delta S) is smaller than 0.1% and has less impact on climate compared with the greenhouse effect. However, Dr Theodor Landscheidt (Schroeter Institute for Research in Cycles of Solar Activity Nova Scotia, Canada) quite rightly asserts that external periodic or quasiperiodic systems can positively force their rhythm on the climate system. This is not only the case with the periodic change of day and night and the Milankovitch cycle, but also with periodic variations in solar energy output. Climatic conditions are strongly influenced by solar activity, although we claim human activity is impacting significantly within this governance.

Q3. 3rd world governments dump raw sewage and waste into the oceans. Is the UN pushing for these governments to clean up their act?( i.e. Egypt )

Not a lot to do with climate change, but western corporations are exploiting legal loopholes to dump their waste in Africa, and all down the West Africa coast, ships registered in America and Europe unload containers filled with old computers, slops, and used medical equipment. In Feb 07 Grosvenor Waste Management Ltd. from the UK pleaded guilty to illegally exporting household waste destined for developing countries in South East Asia.

The West through the manufacturing industry, construction, demolition, mining and quarrying, and agriculture contribute to waste generation containing materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and huge range of other hazardous wastes. I’m not sure if the UN is pushing for the Western World to clean up their act either!

Q4. Much of the world uses open fires to cook and heat. Does this effect our climate??

Some say that the contribution cooking fires make to the global greenhouse budget has been underestimated. Recently, the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that millions of Cambodians cooking with charcoal were to blame for using the bulk of the country’s wood and was a significant factor in the nation’s massive deforestation. Also, countries like Haiti and Nepal have less than 2% of their original forests remaining, much of it burnt in cooking fires. This is double whammy, deforestation reduces CO2 uptake and burning wood contributes to atmospheric CO2 level.


Q5. Wild fires. How much does this effect our Climate?

A growing body of scientific research shows that wildfires contribute significantly to greenhouse gases and therefore impact on our climate. Worldwide biomass burning is estimated to contribute annually up to 50% carbon monoxide, 40% carbon dioxide and 16% methane of human-made emissions. There is a feedback loop here, as the human activity enhances greenhouse gases contributing to higher temperatures, forest fuel indexes will intensify and wildfire frequency and severity will increase.

Rana’s Questions – What are the greenhouse gases exactly? What is the scientific definition of global warming? What is the ozone layer?


Rana, all these questions are addressed in pages on this site; What are greenhouse gases, definition of global warming, ozone layer.

Theresa’s Question – is global warming fact or fiction?

1. The atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has risen strongly since about 1850, from 280 ppm (parts per million) to 380 ppm. 2. Since 1900, the global climate has warmed by ~0.8°C. Temperatures in the past ten years have been the highest since measured records started in the 19th century and for many centuries before that. 3. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognise that there is a strong connection between concentrations of CO2 and global surface temperatures. In recognising the potential for significant climatic changes with this association they established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. The IPCC 4th Assessment report is coming out in Feb 2007 with over 2500 scientific expert reviews. The fact that our globe is warming is not seriously debated amongst the overwhelming majority of scientists. What is debated is the extent to which it will warm, the rate of change, how we can mitigate and adapt to these changes.


Jacqulina Elisa’s Question – What and why climate changes that effects in our world today.

Jacqulina, we have a page called Facts and Impacts of Climate Change which is a one page summary answering these questions. Click here to view the page.

Patrick’s Question – What kind of transportation contributes the most to the increase in greenhouse gases?

Good question Patrick, and according to International Energy Association, transportation accounts for one-fifth of global carbon dioxide emissions, mostly from the combustion of petroleum. This fraction is expected to approach one-third over the next century as more of the Earth’s population uses energy for mobility. It is noteworthy that the US transportation sector emits more CO2 than all but three other countries’ emissions from all sources combined.

The largest transport group contributing to greenhouse gases are cars and other light-duty vehicles. Heavy-duty vehicles (freight), are the next big consumers and then aircraft. Current annual percentage growth in all these sectors is particularly high in Southeast Asia, while some central and eastern European countries are seeing a very rapid increase in car ownership.

The International Panel on Climate Change also flags aviation as particularly troublesome. Fuel use in this sector currently corresponds to 2-3% of the total fossil fuels used worldwide. Of this total, the majority (> 80%) is used by civil aviation. By comparison, the whole transportation sector currently accounts for 20-25% of all fossil fuel consumption. Thus, the aviation sector consumes 13% of the fossil fuel used in transportation; it is the second biggest sector after road transportation, which consumes 80%.


Hannah’s Question – How much funding goes towards solving Global Warming?

In short Hannah, not enough! Britain allegedly spends over £545 million annually on policies that tackle climate change. The figure of £545 million includes energy research and development, contributions to EU research programmes, national research councils and government department research spend, Warm Front and organisations (Carbon Trust and Energy Savings Trust) that help businesses and households be more efficient in their use of energy. The British Government also spend £570 million per annum on flooding and coastal defences each year, some of which will clearly be in response to pressures arising from the need to adapt to climate change.

The Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs reports the United States leads the world in climate change research and has spent over US$20 billion on climate and global change research since 1990.

A smaller country like Australia, has allocated around US$2.3 billion to climate change strategies (over a number of years). But you know what? Australians spent over US$25 billion at Christmas in 2006!

It is not just about what governments are spending, but the policy directions that countries are taking. Leaders of our respective countries need to take climate change seriously, introducing strong policy to encourage the uptake of renewable energy and discourage the use of fossil fuels, along with a whole host of other supportive policies. If we don’t take action (as the economist Nicholas Stern points out) climate change will cost us way more than anything we are currently spending.

Jonah’s Question – Has Chad made resolutions for global warming?

Jonah, I will provide a bit of background on Chad as some may not appreciate the context in which you ask this question. At the 2006 UN Conference in Nairobi it became apparent that Africa is the continent most vulnerable to climate change, although it does not contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is already a hard reality for Chad as it is for people in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and the Sudan. Between 25 and 40 percent of Africa’s natural habitats could be lost by 2085, and rising sea levels are likely to destroy an estimated 30 percent of Africa’s coastal infrastructure. Much of the fighting in Chad (and Darfur) is over water resources, which unfortunately we are likely to see much more of in the years ahead. Lake Chad in 1960 covered 45,000 square kilometres (about 17,000 square miles), and by June in 2002 it had reduced to 550 square kilometres (about 200 square miles). Once there were fish over two meters in length (seven or eight feet long), supporting hundreds of fisherman, now they are all tiny tiddlers and the industry is a thing of the past. In Chad (like many regions in Africa), climate change will contribute to biodiversity loss, increases in droughts, decreases in food production and changes to natural ecosystems.

The United Nations reports that, “African governments work through a number of regional and global institutions to strengthen their response to climate change. They coordinate their regional positions and national policies on climate change through the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), whose secretariat is provided by the Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme. Another important regional forum is the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which promotes projects and action plans relevant to climate change. At the global level, African countries can tap a variety of funds and institutions for support, including the Special Climate Change Fund and the Least Developed Country Fund created under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol, the Global Environment Facility, the World Bank, and other UN and intergovernmental organizations and programmes. African countries can also participate in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), an innovative market-based instrument of the Kyoto Protocol that finances sustainable development projects in developing countries, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Annette’s Q – Can we stop Global Warming?

Annette, this is a big question! Frankly, we really don’t think global warming can be ‘stopped’, but we can reduce carbon emissions that are contributing to the greenhouse effect which in turn is increasing global temperatures. So whilst we cannot stop global warming altogether, we can slow it down, giving us some time to adapt and change the way we live. The real issue is the rate at which the globe is warming, and this gives us so little time to act. Rapid climate change poses immense challenges for adaptation, and carries with it greater risks of damages than would lesser levels and slower rates of change. Remember this is a huge problem, but you can be part of the solution by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Download the free eBook “What You Can Do" which gives practical and easy steps to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions in your own home. Talk to your friends and family, and give them a copy of the book.

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