CHANGING CLIMATE Our Future, Our ChoiceCurriculum
This online exhibit is based on the Changing Climate: Our Future, Our Choice exhibit that will open in the Museum of the Earth in November 2020. The exhibit was made possible by many generous donors and contributors, listed here.
Climate affects life, and life affects climate
Climate change is part of the story of life on Earth. Organisms have evolved in response to climate shifts, but sometimes the shifts were so rapid or extreme that they contributed to mass extinctions.
Life also affects climate. For example, during the Carboniferous period (around 300 million years ago), vast forests absorbed enough heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO₂) through photosynthesis to cool the world.
Humans are changing the Earth’s climate
Today the Earth is warming, but much more rapidly than in the past. These changes are driven mainly by human activity. When we extract and burn fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas) to generate energy, we emit CO₂ and other gases that warm the atmosphere. The energy we use to power our homes, vehicles, and industries has a direct connection to the climate and all life on Earth.