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What is climate change ?

Imagine going for a picnic during your summer hols. You break into a sweat just thinking about it! And to think that your parents would have loved nothing better during their childhood days! Yes, the change in climate over the last few decades has been truly amazing.

Ever since the earth came into being there has been a climate system. The climate of a place is the average weather that it experiences over a period of time. The factors that determine the climate at a location are the rainfall, sunshine, wind, humidity, and temperature.

While changes in the weather may occur suddenly and noticeably, changes in the climate take a long time to settle in and are therefore less obvious. Throughout the earth's history there have been changes in the climate. There have been well-marked cold and hot periods and all life forms adapted naturally to this change.

Over the last 150-200 years climate change has been taking place too rapidly and certain plant and animal species have found it hard to adapt. Human activities are said to be responsible for the speed at which this change has occurred and it is now a cause of worry to scientists.

The atmosphere surrounding the earth is made up of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%) and the remainder, 1%, is made up of trace gases (called so because they are present in very small quantities) that include the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, water vapour, and nitrous oxide. These greenhouse gases act as a blanket and protect it from the harmful ultra violet rays of the sun. They can also be regarded as natural controllers of the earth's temperature system.

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