WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE?
Carbon dioxide is a gas which is in the air. It lets heat from the sun through. However, it doesn’t let it all back out. This means that it makes the Earth hotter. Some carbon dioxide is useful because it stops the Earth getting too cold. However, too much of it makes the Earth too hot.
Carbon dioxide is produced by animals and people when they breathe. It is also produced when things burn. Because people are now burning more things and keeping more animals, there is more and more carbon dioxide in the air. This means that the Earth is getting hotter. This is called climate change.
HOW FORESTS AFFECT CLIMATE CHANGE
Trees take in carbon dioxide. They break it up into carbon and oxygen and store the carbon. When trees are cut down they can no longer take in any more carbon dioxide. Burning them makes the stored carbon combine with oxygen to make carbon dioxide again.
This means that when trees are cut down and not replanted there will be more carbon dioxide in the air. However, if more trees are planted they will take carbon dioxide back out of the air.
HOW WILL CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECT AFRICA?
The Earth getting hotter because of carbon dioxide will be bad for people in Africa. Ice on land in the Arctic and Antarctic will melt. The water from this ice will run into the sea. This means that the level of the sea will go up.
As it goes up, it will flood coastal areas of Africa. People in these areas will have to move. Since there are many cities on the African coast, many people will have to move.
Temperatures across most of Africa will go up. Many areas will be wetter or dryer. These changes may mean that many crops won’t be able to grow well. Deserts in which nothing can grow may get bigger.
Changes to do with climate change may also make it easier for pests and diseases to spread. This will result in more damage to crops and harm to animals.
As the Earth gets hotter, bad weather will get worse. Long periods without rain called droughts will get more common. Rainstorms and windstorms will also happen more in some areas. This will lead to more damage being done to buildings and crops and more flooding.
Even if none of these changes happen in your area, you will still be affected. People will be forced out of coastal areas and other areas which are badly affected. They will have to move to safer areas. This means that people in safer areas will have to cope with lots of people moving in to their area.
HOW CAN WE USE FORESTS TO HELP STOP CLIMATE CHANGE?
Leaving natural forests standing will help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we let out. However, we often need to cut down trees for timber, firewood and other products. There are ways to do this without adding to the carbon dioxide in the air.
We can allow trees to grow to full size before being cut down and used. We can then plant new trees in their places. Some sorts of trees can regrow after being cut down. This is called coppicing. If we do these things we will not let out much carbon dioxide overall.
Planting new areas of trees or putting new trees on areas that have been cleared of forest can also help. These new trees take in extra carbon dioxide. This means that the effect of people removing trees in other places is reduced.