Kona Cloud Forest for Kids

sand_kidWe are providing this page to allow children of all ages to share what they learn about tropical ecosystems, to express their inspiration, and to encourage others to help make a difference.

If you would like to submit a picture, a poem, a school report or other, please send it to us.

Our first entry comes from Drew McWhirter. His school report on global warming is full of interesting information you will enjoy. Thanks Drew.

Global Warming – By: Drew McWhirter (Written at age 10)

What is Global Warming?

Global warming means that our planet is getting warmer because the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are changing. Scientists have been recording the average temperature of the Earth for over 100 years. They know that the increase in temperature causes changes in climate, leading to changes in rainfall patterns and an increase in sea level. Scientists believe that the things people do are causing the Earth to get warmer.

The Greenhouse Effect

The Greenhouse Effect works the same way as a small greenhouse used to grow plants during the winter. It works by trapping heat from the sun. The Earths atmosphere is a layer of mixed gases, such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, ozone and water vapor, which makes up the air we breathe. They contribute to the warming of the Earths atmosphere by trapping energy from the sun. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere work the same way as glass windows in a greenhouse. Sunlight enters the Earth’s atmosphere, passing through the greenhouse gases. The sunlight turns into energy and is absorbed into Earth’s land, water, and all living things. Some of the energy remains trapped in the atmosphere by the greenhouse gases.

The greenhouse effect is important. The gases help the Earth from becoming too hot or too cold. Without the greenhouse effect, the Earth would not be warm enough for humans to live. But if the greenhouse effect becomes stronger, it could make the Earth warmer than usual. This would cause problems for all living things.

The Climate System

The gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land, plants and ice, all play a role in the climate system. When any of those things are affected by a change in the Earth’s temperature over a long period of time, it throws off the balance of everything and changes the Earth’s climate and weather patterns.

How Climate Change Will Affect People

Sometimes little things can turn into big things. Think about brushing your teeth. If you don’t brush for one day, chances are nothing bad will happen. But if you don’t brush for a month, you might get a cavity. It’s the same thing with Earth’s temperatures. If temperatures rise above normal for a few days, it’s no big deal, but if temperatures continue to rise over a long period of time, all living things on Earth may be in trouble. Even a small increase in temperature over a long time can change the climate. When the climate changes things people depend on are affected. For example, as the Earth’s temperature rises glaciers melt, which will raise the level of the oceans. This will change the amount of water being evaporated from the oceans and falling back on land as rain, snow or hail.

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A collage of a forest tree made from the hand prints of the pre-K kids at Bellevue Boys and Girls Club in Washington State.

 

Here are some examples of what will happen as the Earth’s temperature continues to increase and the climate changes:

  • In some places the heat will become so extreme that it will cause people to have heat related health problems.
  • Changes in food and water supply will affect human health and could cause starvation and dehydration.
  • Climate change may alter the delicate balance of rainfall, temperature, and soil type in the World’s habitats. Because many living things depend on these places, a change in climate could upset this balance and many living things would not survive.
  • Global warming would cause the sea level to rise as glaciers melt. This would cause flooding along Coastlines and beachfront homes. Also buildings would get ruined.
  • Global warming might bring droughts and ruin food that farmers grow to supply our grocery stores. Food may become harder to come by. People may not have enough food to eat because they cannot grow the food they need.

 

It is possible that if Global warming happens slowly plants, animals and people could adapt to the changes. But scientists think that big changes in temperature will happen over a short period of time making it more difficult for living things to adapt. People who live in Countries that have a lot of money could likely spend billions of dollars to adapt to these kinds of changes. Poor people and poor countries will be less likely to have the money and resources they would need to cope with preventing and treating health problems. Very young children and old people will have the hardest time.

How People Affect The Climate System

As I mentioned before, when the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere change, it causes the climate system to change. Many of the things people do everyday contribute to increasing the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Most common are things like driving a car and using electricity. If we continue to do these things at the rate we have been, and as there continues to be more and more humans on Earth every year to contribute to doing these things, Global warming could become a big problem. You and I may not be alive by then to suffer the consequences, but our children and grandchildren will.

Why Are Forests So Important?

When I was in Hawai’i I asked my grandpa (who lives in a cloud forest), “Why are forests so important?” This is what he told me. The world’s forests, especially rainforests and cloud forests, are the lungs of the planet. They absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen which human beings and animals must have to survive. In the last 50 years, millions of square miles of tropical forests have been destroyed in Africa, South America and South Asia.

Cloud forests are special because they are found in higher areas of the tropics and have many rare plants and animals. Almost half of the water that falls in the cloud forests comes by dripping from the trees when clouds move through them. When the trees are destroyed the cloud forests often become dry open land. Even places like the Olympic Peninsula would become dryer if the trees were cut. Then it is at a higher risk for fires which would kill the rest.

The air in the forests actually has more oxygen than air in cities, where there is much less trees. The abundance of oxygen makes people feel good. That is one reason why athletes like professional football players take whiffs of oxygen when they are playing. It helps them to perform better. Without plants, especially forests, carbon dioxide would be the main gas and animals including man would die.

How We Can Make A Difference

We can do our part to help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that we put into the atmosphere. Here are some things you and I can do:

  • Save Electricity – turn off lights and don’t leave the television or computer on when you’re not using them
  • Reduce the number of cars being driven around everyday – Ride a bike, take the bus, walk or carpool with friends to help.
  • Plant trees – trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the air. The more trees we have on our planet the less greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
  • Recycle – Recycle cans, bottles, plastic bags and newspapers. When you recycle, you send less trash to the landfill and you help save natural resources, like trees, oil, and things like aluminum.
  • Buy things that are made to use less energy – people who care about our environment are now making things that require less energy. Things like cars, stereos, and refrigerators are just a few examples.
  • Tell people – talk to your family and friends about global warming and tell them what you’ve learned.