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We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.
Scientists measure how plants change the amounts of gases in the air. Changes in amount of greenhouse gases can change the amount of greenhouse effect and global warming.
Photo by Lee Klinger, UCAR Digital Image Library

Living Things Affect Climate

There are many different ways that the plants, animals, and other living things affect climate. Some produce greenhouses gases that trap heat and aid global warming through the greenhouse effect. Others take greenhouse gases out of the air. Here are some examples:

  • Plants take greenhouse gases out of the air. During the night, plants release some back into the air. They take much more greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere than they put in.
  • Farm animals like cows and sheep make greenhouse gases when they digest their food.
  • Wetlands and rice patties and the tiny, microscopic bacteria that live there make greenhouse gas.
  • Factories and power plants release greenhouse gas into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned.
  • Cars and trucks release greenhouse gas when they burn fossil fuels.
  • We use fertilizers to help plants grow but they also make greenhouse gas when they break apart in the soil.
  • Wildfires put greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as they burn. But if the forest grows back, it will take greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere.

Humans control many things that produce greenhouse gases. Today, more greenhouse gases are put into the atmosphere than are taken out. This is causing out planet to become warmer because of the greenhouse effect.

Last modified June 4, 2010 by Randy Russell.

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The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA