Teaching with Stamps: Primary resources for teaching America’s history and heritage.
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A few days before Earth Day 2014, the United Nations released a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report offered ever-more concrete evidence of global warming and increasing climate change. The report also said that despite the mounting danger to the planet, there are steps that can be taken to stop the phenomenon. The scale of change required to halt global warming is massive, but it can be done if we embrace those changes now.
Most important to slow the progress of global warming is the use of alternative, renewable energy sources. To understand how this change can happen, let’s look at the various types of energy available on our planet.
Kids of Nonrenewable Energy
Fossil fuels include coal, oil and natural gas. They are thus named because they come from the ancient remains of animals and plants – called fossils – buried beneath the earth for millions of years. Over time, the heat and pressure underground turned the ancient remains into fuels that release energy when they are burned. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon into the atmosphere that mixes with oxygen and becomes carbon dioxide, or CO2 for short, a leading cause of global warming. Not good. And because these fuels take millions of years to make, they are not considered renewable energy sources.
Examples of Renewable Energy
Solar energy is energy that is collected from the sun onto solar panels that store it for heat and electricity. Solar energy is commonly used to heat, homes, pools and increasingly commercial buildings.
Wind energy has been an energy source for humans for centuries, powering boats across the seas. Today wind is used to turn the blades on a turbine (or windmill) that is connected to a generator and makes electricity.
Water energy is created when the energy of falling water generates hydroelectricity. The power of the water turns a wheel or turbine that is connected to a generator and creates electricity.
Geothermal energy is created from the heat inside the Earth. Geysers, hot springs and volcanoes are a result of geothermal heat. Steam from the heat underneath the earth can also produce electricity.
These resources are considered renewable because they are constantly regenerating and are ever-present.
Because climate change is happening today, it is important to plan for the future and anticipate the effects of climate change. Preparing now will help protect people in the future from severe weather events, droughts, floods, and protect animals, plants and the land from climate change.
Schools around the world are seeing an increasingly important role in teaching students how to understand the complex concept of climate change, and to think about their roles and responsibilities to slow the process. According to the New York Times (4/20/14) 26 states have adopted new standards for teaching climate change beginning in the middle school years. Ireland has a full curriculum on sustainable development. Students in island nations including Trinidad, Cuba and Indonesia participate in an international program called Sandwatch that monitors beach erosion, takes water samples and assesses wildlife.
Learn more about what you can do as an individual or within a group to halt the progression of global warming and protect the planet at the USPS Education Kit, The Green Teams.